Nic Roeg’s long-awaited return to the big screen takes the form of an atmospheric if modestly scaled adaptation of a Fay Weldon novel about the threatening ‘pagan’ mire that envelops a young female English architect (Kelly Reilly) who’s come to an Irish hamlet to redevelop a cottage with a past. Roeg conjures reasonably lightly with Weldon’s teasing feminist-inflected, ‘Wicker-Man’-lite allusions, blending a naturalistic, psychologically heightened shooting style with sexual frankness and gynaecological inserts as the newcomer’s sexual dalliance with a neighbour’s husband sets up a witches’ brew of jealousies, rivalries and miscarriage-inducing potions. The performances are uneven: Reilly is fresh and spontaneous, but Rita Tushingham’s ancient crone, peering ominously through windows, seems a little stock and Donald Sutherland – as Reilly’s guru-like boss who visits offering maxims on renewal – is too ethereal. The steadfast stare of a sheep dog is genuinely creepy.
Cast and crew
Keeley Hawes Miranda Richardson Donald Sutherland Kelly Reilly