Wide Sargasso Sea
Time Out saysJean Rhys's last novel unlocked the secret behind the door: who was the mysterious madwoman in Rochester's attic in Jane Eyre? Rhys imagined her as a Creole Jamaican plantation-owner's daughter and voodoo-child who becomes a victim of clashing cultural loyalties, degenerate family inheritance and disappointed love. Duigan's version retains much of the period detail, but wisely avoids getting swamped by diffuse political allegory, and settles instead as a full blown bodice-ripper. Presumably Karina Lombard was cast as the daughter to embody sensuality and suggest mixed-blood inheritance, but her limitations as an actress forbid audience identification. Likewise, Parker's Rochester, shipped from Albion for the fateful arranged marriage, is merely a dashing cad. There's little sense of any of the proceedings, but the movie has a fascinating charged quality: Geoff Burton films the Jamaican locations in an intoxicating profusion of colour, and the colonialist soirées and the plantation-house fire are superbly mounted. A strange, dark, muddled dream of a movie, occasionally risible but rarely boring.