This adaptation replicated the indolent oppressiveness of a hot summer at a stuffy country house rife with opression and repressed desire which came across well in the 1970s film. Ben Batt wasn’t quite Alan Bates but he was OK, I guess?
Jack Hollington played the young Leo well, but he spent most of his scenes in tears, or veering on the edge of being in tears. Lesley Manville played the role of the horrifying Mrs Maudsley very well, playing the personification of a battleaxe matriarch to perfection. Jim Broadbent played the role of the older Leo. He is always good in whatever role he plays, even though his role seemed to be little more than a bookend for the rest of the story and resultingly it just felt a bit ham-fisted. Vanessa Redgrave’s role as the older Marion Maudsley was good but it was just very baffling how the character had not lost the ability to manipulate the (now older) Leo even years after the events of the hot summer of 1900.
However, featuring the older and younger Leo alongside each other was an interesting stylistic choice if only to represent the musings of the elderly man’s mind as he forced himself to be at peace with the past and the awful secrets he’d kept as a young child.
The 1970s version of this drama replicated the stifled oppressiveness well and clearly demonstrated the obvious class hierarchies between master and servant. I didn’t really feel the romance between Marian and Ted but it seemed to be more a case of lust and would probably have cooled in time.
Better than it first appears, but it should have been sold on its merits singularly rather than lumped with the likes of Poldark just because they both feature half-naked men going swimming in lakes – sure to get the female viewers hot under the collar. A drama should never just be sold on the quantity of nudity within it.
MY RATING: *** / *****