The Scarlet Tunic
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Time Out saysFormer stuntman Stuart St Paul's first feature is an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's story The Melancholy Hussar. Though it cost only £350,000, it has none of the self-conscious flashiness of a 'calling card' movie. Never balking at the melodramatic elements of Hardy's vision, this tale of doomed love is told with clarity, passion and a keen eye for the beauty of Dorset. Barr smoulders as the German hussar, whose love for solicitor's daughter Fielding leaves her torn between duty and desire, while Sessions is slyly convincing, too, as the weasel-like suitor favoured by Fielding's loving but misguided father. Only the eye rolling Callow, as the martinet captain whose hounding of Barr betrays his own homosexual desire, misjudges the emotionally overwrought tone - one expects him to start twirling his impressive moustaches at any moment. Dis-appointingly, St Paul also over-eggs the pudding with a conciliatory coda that softens the original tragic ending. A credit, however, to all those who lent their time and talent.