Based on a true story, this lyrical romance set in 1913 Cornwall is also a drudgefest that never comes alive. This is partly down to overly sedate direction at times from Menaul and a miscast Cooper in the lead as fiery poet and painter AJ Munnings. Though he looks the part of an itinerant Edwardian artist, he gives a strangely flat performance in the role.
His Munnings is meant to be a pigheaded, smouldering bastard that women cannot resist, but the lack of shading and colour in Cooper's interpretation leaves a gaping hole at the centre. All the more surprising considering his superb turn in The Devil's Double a couple of years back.
Browning and Stevens hit the right tone as Munning's abused lover and fusty friend. They convince in depicting the tense love and longing they feel for each other away from Munning's paranoid eye, but one can never become involved in their plight when their antagonist generates such little heat.
That's the problem with this sincere but slow moving portrait of buttoned up emotions 100 years ago. The passions that ignite fail to fire one up. Period trappings are all efficiently rendered however, and there's a delightful piece of drollery from veteran Farrell as Browning's stern and snobbish father, but overall this well intentioned love story never grips. It's a bit of a bore that makes Downton Abbey look like The Hangover. File under maudlin misfire.
EXTRAS ★★★ Interviews with cast members Stevens, Browning and Cooper, plus writer Smith and musician Lakeman; an interview with director Menaul on shooting in Cornwall; a featurette on the Art behind The Film; and a behind-the-scenes featurette on the flm's original score.