In the film’s defence, it doesn’t fall victim to this failure in every instance, and in the case of the relationship between Hester and her stepmother it is executed perfectly. Portrayed through two very simple scenes, the woman’s disdain and disappointment in her daughter-in-law is uncomfortably evident. Albeit awkward and clipped, the dialogue is quite innocent. It is the telltale visuals; the positioning of the characters and the portrayal of them that really set these scenes alight.
On the whole, the acting performances are strong. Hiddleston is particularly impressive, depicting the complexities of a war-troubled young man with excellence. But this makes the film all the more disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, each performance has passion, each character is passionate. The issue is that the story isn’t strong enough, and as a result this passion loses its direction. We can’t connect with the characters, and therefore feel no connection to the film as a whole.
Overall, the one word I’m left with is ‘okay’. Although it’s certainly not one to be avoided altogether, it’s a film that in my opinion just didn’t deliver in the way I’d expected.