After mishandling the story's set-up, director David Thacker steers Ted Whitehead's adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel to a satisfyingly cathartic end. Abusive and alcoholic, unemployed farmhand Michael Henchard (Ciaran Hinds) mistreats his devoted wife, Susan (Juliet Aubrey), and then drunkenly auctions her off, with their infant daughter, to the highest bidder at a county fair. The next morning, a hung-over Henchard regrets his folly and vows to God to avoid liquor. The buyer, seafarer Richard Newson (Clive Russell), turns out to be a fine man, but after 19 years of marital bliss he disappears at sea. Hoping to improve the future prospects of her daughter, ...