Naseby Field, 1645. Victorious General Fairfax (Scott), commander of Parliamentary forces, mercifully stays the hand of enraged cavalry commander Cromwell (Roth), who's intent on killing a failed assassin. With the King (Everett) defeated, Fairfax is passionately reunited with Lady Anne (Williams) - war having given him, according to his glowing wife, 'more steel in his bones' - while lonely insomniac Cromwell, like a faithful guard-dog, curls up for the night outside their tent. This widescreen Civil War drama, covering the four fateful years leading to the execution of Charles I, must be commended for at least attempting to do justice to the political complexities of the time. But the crammed, convoluted, episodic narrative is wearisome, despite the seductive attractions of fine heritage location work and painterly lighting. The performances are generally solid (Everett strong but too self-aggrandising, Scott grave and effective if lacking in 'Darcy' charisma), but Roth's characterisation is a fatal mistake. There's a market waiting for both sophisticated historical pageant and period romantic drama, but this, regrettably, will satisfy neither.
To Kill a King
Cast and crew