I would urge Amazon's WWW site's users to obtain and to view this film, but with a warning. The narrative of the film does not reveal itself very clearly. I even had read the novel ("The Mayor of Casterbridge") by Thomas Hardy on which the film was based (with a transfer from a British to an American Western setting, with changes in the names of the characters), but had read that great work too long ago to be able to recall enough of it to follow clearly what the film, too, was portraying. I did manage to "get the gist of it" despite a lot of confusion along the way, but it was a summary of the action of the motion picture, on a WWW site that made it all congeal together, "after the fact" of having viewed it, rather than adequate clues of a visual sort or from the dialogue from the movie itself while I first was watching it.
The film is visually very beautiful. The mountainous California scenery is magnificent and rather well and atmospherically filmed. The young male actor, Wes Bentley, who plays the role of Dalglish, the railroad planner, provides the main human pulchritude, very handsome and youtfully appealing, real "eye candy". His acting is less than stunning, perhaps at least in part due to the apparent need to affect a foreign accent that he conveys with only intermittent ability to convince. One of the problems, though, that this film has with conveying the narrative is that so much attention on the character of Dalglish (Bentley), especially so near to the beginning of the movie, distracts the viewer's attention from the plight (until revived later as the action progresses) of Daniel Dillon (played by Peter Mullan), who, after all, is the central character around whose fate this cinematic work turns. What occurs in flashbacks to the past and what is happening in the action's present also is unclear, creating potential confusion for the viewer.
The film might have benefitted from a better and more assertive score. Too much happens without the evocative enhancement that a more skillful and prominent score would have provided.
A good motion picture this is, in short, but do some "homework" to prepare yourself to follow the story that this film recounts with such visual beauty. I would like to see my DVD of this movie a few more times, to feast the eyes on the lofty loveliness of the mountain setting and on the boyishly bearded beauty of Wes Bentley, so, I guess that this is adequate to have provoked that opening, decided recommendation to you from me!