In this exquisite adaptation of Peter Carey's novel, gambling is more than an obsession - it's a leap of faith. For eccentric Anglican cleric Oscar Hopkins, winning on the horses is God's way of providing financial support for him and the Oxford poorhouse, while Australian heiress Lucinda Leplastrier's evenings around the card table are just one expression of the scandalous individualism that has already seen this single woman running her own glass factory. As we follow their personal histories from troubled childhood to awkward maturity, the pair seem destined to meet, even though they have grown up on opposite sides of the world. An ocean voyage from Portsmouth to Sydney allows fate to play its hand, but can such emotionally fragile individuals take advantage of their chance combination? Fiennes and Blanchett's expertly judged performances stand at the centre of this tantalising narrative, which conjures a touching love story from the silences of its protagonists' halting vulnerability. For director Armstrong, it marks another wise portrait of resilient Victorian womanhood to match even My Brilliant Career, but here she goes beyond her usual classical economy. Everything a costume drama should be.
Oscar and Lucinda
Cast and crew