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The Scarlet Tunic, an adaptation of a Thomas Hardy short story, is set in the rolling hills of the 19th-century English countryside. While this is a beautiful-looking movie, what it offers in scenery and costuming it lacks in cinematic power. Perhaps this simple story of forbidden love would have been better off left as a short story.
Frances Groves, daughter of a solicitor, is betrothed to her father's awkward, older, and unattractive business associate. Matthaus Singer--sensitive, conflicted, poetry-reading German hussar--is camped with his squadron on the Groves' land. The inevitable romance between the two puts them both at tremendous risk as they are caught between their love for each other and their incompatible places in society.
Jean-Marc Barr (Breaking the Waves) and Emma Fielding put in respectable performances, but they're not enough to carry the slow-moving plot. For those in search of a love-gone-awry period piece, Wuthering Heights (the Olivier version) or Immortal Beloved are better choices. --Mara Friedman
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