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Wide Sargasso Sea (BBC 2006, Rafe Spall, Rebecca Hall)

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Jean Rhys prequel to Jane Eyre, Wide Saragasso Sea, is given a highly sensuous treatment in this BBC companion to their own big budget production of Jane Eyre. Rafe Spall plays the young Mr Rochester who in the early 1800’s finds himself in Jamaica where he falls for and quickly marries Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway. Their passion quite quickly turns to dangerous betrayal as Rochester and his new wife quickly realise their incompatabilities.

Rebecca Hall is fantastic as Antoinette, not typically beautiful but initially imbuing her character with a huge amount of erotic power that you can easily see why Rochester wants her and as she slowly begins her descent into madness (there is a brilliant scene where is forced to listen to her husband making love to their maid beyond her bedroom door where she has barricaded herself in), she really excels. Equally worthy of mention is Rafe Spall as Rochester, an actor of great quality (much like his father Timothy).

Director Brendan Maher does a wonderful job and the Caribbean locations are practically dripping with languid eroticism. Seen either in conjunction with Jane Eyre or by itself this is a high quality drama that doesn’t disappoint.

production details
UK | BBC Four – Kudos | 1×84 minutes | 2006

Writer: Stephen Greenhorn
Book by Jean Rhys
Music: Nina Humphreys
Executive Producers: Jane Featherstone, Claire Parker
Producer: Elwen Rowlands
Director: Brendan Maher

cast
Rafe Spall as Edward Rochester
Rebecca Hall as Antoinette Cosway
Nina Sosanya as Christophine
Victoria Hamilton as Aunt Cora
Lorraine Burroughs as Amelie
Alex Robertson as Richard Mason
Karen Meagher as Grace Poole
Fraser Ayres as Daniel