Director Michael Winterbottom and screenwriter Hossein Amini's version of the Thomas Hardy gut-wrencher Jude the Obscure
is bristling, muscular Victorian noir. Of the scant handful of previous Hardy adaptations, none can match its intensity. Far from another genteel, Emma
Thompson country-house tour, it's scabrous, passionate and dark, a grim romance set amid the perpetually unfortunate English farming classes. Christopher Eccleston (SHALLOW GRAVE's angel-of-death accountant) plays Jude, a freethinking, would-be schoolteacher trying to rise above his scrubby roots
and never quite succeeding. The movie's secret weapon, though, is Kate Winslet: As Jude's cousi...