Tess

Rated PG 171 minutes 2012

This lushly photographed Franco-British production (1979) comes on like an overbudgeted episode of Masterpiece Theatre, but seen in the context of Roman Polanski's career it becomes something rich and strange, shaded into terror by the naturalistic absurdism that is the basis of Polanski's style. It's the familiar Polanski tale of an innocent adrift in a hostile, chaotic environment, though it is realized here with more subtlety and sympathy than he had managed in a decade. The film is remarkably faithful to the Thomas Hardy novel, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, upon which it is based, yet it has been totally transformed in spirit. With Nastassia Kinski, Leigh Lawson, and Peter Firth.

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