Picks and Pans Review: The Return of the Native
updated 12/05/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 12/05/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST
Using an all-British cast, Hallmark sedulously adapts one of Victorian novelist Thomas Hardy's best-known books.
Beautiful but bored Eustacia Vye (Catherine Zeta-Jones) feels trapped living with her grandfather on an unforgiving heath in southern England in 1842. This enchantress can emotionally poleax any man she chooses, a power that alarms the superstitious, benighted local folk.
Eustacia sets her grappling hooks into idealistic Clym Yeobright (Ray Stevenson), whom she deludes herself into seeing as a ticket to a more glamorous life. Their rash union leads to one of Hardy's characteristic dark twists, following a path strewn with missed opportunities, misunderstandings and mistakes.
The film is on the ponderous side even though the authentic, rustic setting and Zeta Jones's cruel allure are at times bewitching. Clive Owen, Joan Plowright and Steven MacKintosh costar.