Saturday, February 18, 2017

Now on Netflix: Jamaica Inn (2015)

Jamaica Inn (2015) - Directed by Philipa Lowthorpe; Starring Jessica Brown Findlay, Matthew McNulty, Sean Harris, Joanne Whaley, Ben Daniels, Shirley Henderson.

By Kenny Howell

A young woman in early 19th century Cornwall goes to live with her aunt and uncle and learns that are up to some nefarious activities in this stellar adaptation of the Daphne Du Maurier story.

Jessica Brown Findlay (Albatross) plays Mary, who has to go live with her aunt and uncle after the death of her mother. Her uncle Joss (Sean Harris) is a terrible man, and that becomes apparent when Mary witnesses him murdering a man in the town for crossing him. But that isn't the only thing he is up to, as he leads a group of men that cause shipwrecks so they can loot the men and their ships when they come close to the shore.

Mary tries to reach out to someone for help, but it becomes obvious that the isolation of Cornwall is like a prison. She has no one to run to and nowhere to hide because her uncle would kill her if she managed to escape and get help. She must figure out how to live within that world, and hope that she or someone else can find a way to put an end to her uncle's deeds.

The adaptation, which runs over three, hour long episodes, does not sugar coat the uncle's cruelty. The opening scene of the final episode is haunting, as we get to see what Joss' men do during the shipwrecks. Alfred Hitchcock also adapted this years ago, but they feel very different in tone, obviously the time when they were made plays a big part. This one is much harsher, which I think works well for the time it is being told. Jamaica Inn does veer into a love story that is probably not all that necessary, but Findlay plays a perfect damsel in distress, and the ruthless Harris as Joss is terrific as the villain. Top notch adaptation once again for the BBC.

Jamaica Inn is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***1/2

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