Under the Greenwood Tree (2005)

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Director: Nicholas Laughland

Writer: Thomas Hardy (novel), Ashley Pharoah (screenplay)

Cast: Keeley Hawes, James Murray, Terry Mortimer, Richard Leaf, Steve Pemberton, Ben Miles

Synopsis: The radiant glow of Keeley Hawes--an English rose if ever there was one--anchors Under the Greenwood Tree, a light romance from the normally gloomy pen of Thomas Hardy. When a young educated woman with the preposterous name of Fancy Day (Hawes) returns to a small village to care for her father, she finds herself pursued by three very different men: The poor but handsome Dick Dewy (James Murray), the crude but wealthy Mr. Shiner (Steve Pemberton), and the erudite but pompous Parson Maybold (Ben Miles).

The story is slender but enjoyable, with hints of class conflict and the changes due to come from the impending Industrial Revolution. Hawes lends her considerable intelligence and charm to the put-upon Miss Day; she makes you feel the eroticism of washing your hands in the same basin with an attractive man. The accompanying "making of" documentary is also pleasant, though it goes on a bit too long about artificial snow.


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