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163 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant period drama that deserves more attention
It's almost impossible not to compare this with the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (which I also love). This is slightly harder work, I think -- it's not so immediately compelling, less of a confection and more of a meal. The nature of the storytelling is different, even if the scripts were in the same capable hands (Andrew Davies's) and the production values...
Published on 22 Jan 2004 by HLT

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but felt short of brilliant
Yet another BBC success, a solid adaptation with a few brilliant performances (Michael Gambon is indeed amazing, I felt his loss painfully, as are the insufferable and manipulative stepmother and the warm father) but I was not convinced by the younger characters which was a let down, I did not feel their pain or their connections/chemistry, hence the 3 stars. The story...
Published on 9 Mar 2011 by Laurisis


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163 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant period drama that deserves more attention, 22 Jan 2004
By 
HLT (Wales, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
It's almost impossible not to compare this with the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (which I also love). This is slightly harder work, I think -- it's not so immediately compelling, less of a confection and more of a meal. The nature of the storytelling is different, even if the scripts were in the same capable hands (Andrew Davies's) and the production values similar (though I suspect they had less money to throw at this).
Wives and Daughters is altogether darker, deeper, and more human than the frothy P&P. Here, we have racial and religious prejudice and its consequences, more than one death, and a far more cruel and direct portrayal of ruinous gossip than ever threatened the Bennet girls. Also, one of the most powerfully romantic moments I've ever seen dramatised: the offering of flowers to heroine Molly in the final episode, and the superb, heart-wrenching give-and-take dialogue that goes with it.
It's hard to fault the casting or acting. Justine Waddell is perfect and perfectly (if unconventionally) beautiful in the central role of Molly. The "mother" character has been compared to Austen's Mrs Bennet, but Francesca Annis as Molly's stepmother Hyacinth brought far more depth to her role. If you were irritated by Alison Steadman's shrieking Mrs Bennet, you might just end up actually wanting to strangle the colder, more devious Hyacinth :-)
To sum up, I can enjoy Pride and Prejudice over and over again without feeling sated, but it doesn't move me to tears the way this does.
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57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good adaptation of a very good novel. Michael Gambon is brilliant., 11 Aug 2007
By 
Elvira (Scandinavia) - See all my reviews
After watching it may times over, this has become one of my favorite screen adaptations of classical novels. I never thought any movie could come close to Pride and Prejudice in that sense, but this one truly does. Elizabeth Gaskell (novelist) has no black and white characters, just like in George Eliot novels one learns to understand the misfortunes and good sides of the less sympathetic people(like the step mother and step daughter at the start) and one feels with all characters, which in my opinion gives more depth to a story. In this one the deep affection between the Heroine and her father is very beautifully described, as well as the growing love between the Heroine and her neighbor the Squires son. Equally much we get involved in the aging Squires worries and hopes for his two sons to make it in this world, beautifully acted by Michael Gambon. His performance is stunning and brings you to tears. No wonder he won a BAFTA for this one!

This movie is one of the best to describe both awakening love, peoples honest intentions and care for loved ones in the 19th century rural England. One just loves the whole story and the people in it very much!

Very highly recommended to everyone fond of the complex human nature, passion, relationships, good dialog and good acting. I wish there would be more adaptations like this, were all pieces fall into place equally well: very well directed, high quality production with acclaimed cast, costumes, scenery and footage. Don't miss it.
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68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb, heart-warming adaptation, 7 Sep 2005
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This is the second Elizabeth Gaskell adaptation I watched. Although it is not as stunning and breathtakingly dramatic as North & South - of course the topics handled are very different -, it is a masterpiece of its own right with wonderful cast& crew.
Jusitne Waddel (Molly) and Bill Patterson (dr Gibson)play daughter and father very convincingly: you can feel their down-to-earth, but strong and heart-warming affection for each other. Nothing superficial or pretentious. Francesca Annis (Clare Gibson) and Keely Hawes (her daughter, Cynthia) are perfectly suited as mother and daughter: you can grasp the physical and characteristic similarities. One of the most annoying and at the same time most delightful scenes is when Mr Gibson gives a piece of her mind to Cynthia for putting Molly's good reputation at stake and both Cynthia and Mrs Gibson are crying, feeling they've been sadly abused & misunderstood while Molly - the only person having ground to feel injured - is standing there patiently, not saying a word. Their carelessness and selfishness is featured wonderfully in that scene.
Justine Waddel was a fresh and lively Molly. Keely Hawes was a wondeful Cynthia: you couldn't help liking and disliking her at the same time. Iain Glen's acting was also very good: he was good-looking, but repulsive at the same time. Francesca Annis and Michael Gambon were both superb.
Supporting actors were very well chosen: I especially liked the beautiful Rosamund Pike as aristocratic, independent Lady Harriet.
BBC has done its best again.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great tv series, 26 Feb 2004
I'm a real lover of series like this so i may be prejudiced. However i must say that if you want to see a movie based on one of the classics it's best to see a tv adaptation. Series like this are not confined to 2 hours so they are , most of the time, much more faithfull to the book. The players in this serie are great. But i must say that Francesca Annis really shines.Bravo for cast AND crew !
Sit down and make an evening of it !
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but felt short of brilliant, 9 Mar 2011
Yet another BBC success, a solid adaptation with a few brilliant performances (Michael Gambon is indeed amazing, I felt his loss painfully, as are the insufferable and manipulative stepmother and the warm father) but I was not convinced by the younger characters which was a let down, I did not feel their pain or their connections/chemistry, hence the 3 stars. The story otherwise would deserve more praise and attention, and a good 4 stars. It touches subjects a lot more diversified than the typical period drama with complicated family dynamics, plenty of human faults resulting in disappointments and remorse without being either a villain or a saint as well as social and racial considerations, all this on top of the love story plot.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous 10 stars - looking forward to Cranford, 7 Nov 2007
By 
Sarah Markham "Pottertastic" (Lancashire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This has to be one of my favourite BBC adaptations, rating alongside Pride and Prejudice. Andrew Davies again has done an excellent job, he can be forgiven a bit for his Northanger Abbey, which considering the length of the piece is understandable. I know other reviewers think this isn't quite as good, but I think Wives and Daughters is a bit of a slow burner. It isn't instantly as enticing as Pride but you will grow to love it just as much. I won't bore you with plot details as it has been done before, just buy this, if, like me you love costume drama. The performances are all excellent and unlike other reviewers I loved Justine as Molly. She isn't exactly like the Molly in the book but then that wouldn't be very appealing on scene. The excellent actress (can't remember her name)who played the main character in the recent Bleak House adaptation was also nothing like the Esther in the novel. She has made the character more engaging for me. She has done other costume drama (Great Expectations)before this and I loved her in those as well. I think it is a real shame that she hasn't had the success that the other young cast members(who are brilliant too) like Keeley Hawes, Rosamund Pike, Antony Howell and Tom Hollander have had since this production. I loved the ending of the programme as well, again a modern twist. I'm looking forward to Cranford which along with many of the cast from Wives and Daughter also has the excellent Judi Dench in it. I'm so pleased that the BBC has made Elizabeth Gaskell more well known with these series, there is also North and South which has the very yummy Richard Armitage in it. Now all we need is some good Wilkie Collins productions and I'd be very happy.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb - Andrew Davies does it again!, 26 Jan 2007
By 
Skylark (England) - See all my reviews
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I hadn't read the book so didn't know what to expect. However, this has to rate as one of the best productions the BBC has done - I would have to rate it alongside Pride and Prejudice, and I never thought the day would come!

The production values are outstanding, the screenplay is lush and the story is really involving with some wonderful characters. Each episode gets better and better, and I was bereft when it finally ended. My husband watched it separately, and hasn't stopped raving about it since. At 5-odd hours of viewing, this is a treasure and worth every single penny. You'll certainly want to watch it again!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous; a must for costume drama fans, 24 Sep 2007
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Meerkat (Dereham, Norfolk) - See all my reviews
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This is based on the last novel that Mrs Gaskell wrote, and unfortunately, she died before completing it. We can be sure that she did intend a happy ending, but I'm not sure she would have intended quite the ending that this adaptation shows. However, that is a very minor gripe about what is an absolutely fabulous adaptation of a very readable book. Every character was spot on and all exactly as they appear in the book (with the possible exception for me of Osborne Hamley - not good looking enough). The locations, dialogue, costumes, everything are exceptional and this is a wonderful costume drama for all ages.
I just love the ironies that abound; in order to 'save' Molly from unwanted male attention, Mr Gibson re-marries and promptly finds himself and Molly embroiled in terrible scandal and secrets that can't be betrayed, inflicted on them both by his new wife's daughter.
In order to achieve a serenely well-managed household, Mr Gibson re-marries and turns his house into the abode of hysterical women from which he tries desperately to stay away on all occasions.
In order to get Molly away from an admirer, Mr Gibson sends her to stay with the Hamleys and she falls in love with Roger.
Absolutely wonderful! And serves him entirely right, by the way. He is not a very likeable man in either the novel or the adaptation, and brings his own doom about in a way that reminds you of the small trickle that sets off the landslide.
However, he is resigned to bearing the folly of his own actions and achieves a reasonable happiness by the end, so all is not lost.
The 2nd Mrs Gibson is an excellent character; so flawed and yet she tries so hard to be everything she believes she is and should be.
I cannot recommend this highly enough and would also encourage you to read the novel as it is very accessible and a cracking good read.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous Anthony Howell, 1 April 2005
A wonderful, beautiful adaption of the classic unfinished Gaskell novel. A beautiful BBC ending, if not slightly unrealistic. Anthony Howell showed himself to be a wondorous Roger Hamley alongside the great father, son duo Michael Gambon and Tom Hollander. A wonderful family partnership. Congratulations to the Beeb for yet another outstanding adaption.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Viewing and a peek at Victorian Life, 2 Nov 2000
By A Customer
I love period dramas as long as the research has been put in and the period is accurately portrayed. The BBC does this consistently and as they choose top quality literary sources to start with the resulting drama is well worth watching. "Wives and Daughters" is one of the best they have done with a subtle and engaging storyline, well researched period details and some absolutely fantastic acting. As I am familiar with the town where the filming took place there was the added thrill of recognising the sets. (This was also a bit disconcerting when a character would walk out of a house or through a gate and suddenly be a great distance from where they were a step ago. This could prove a bit disruptive to the storyline but unless you know Marshfield will not be noticed.) It was very nice to see a "romance" where there was a good deal more than calf eyes and sex scenes. All up a really lovely film and definitely a keeper for watching again and again.
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Wives and Daughters (Repackaged) [DVD]
Wives and Daughters (Repackaged) [DVD] by Nicholas Renton (DVD - 2012)
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