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Wide Sargasso Sea

One disc; Acorn Media; $24.99

By Michael S. Gant

Charlotte Brontė's Jane Eyre has proven so enduring a story that a new adaptation emerges every few years, mostly recently, in 2006, from the BBC with Toby Stephens as brooding Rochester. And thanks to Jean Rhys, the characters even have backstories. Her 1966 novel Wide Sargasso Sea imagines the early days of Rochester in Jamaica, where he marries his first wife, who later languishes in the tower at Moor House setting fires and keening. This 2006 version of Sargasso, also from the BBC, stars Rafe Spall (from Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, and son of actor Timothy) as the callow Edward Rochester, who visits the English colony of Jamaica in the early years of the 19th century and is smitten by a Creole woman, Antoinette (Rebecca Hall, soon to be seen in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona). After some moments of ecstasy, their marriage goes sour. Trapped in a remote, dilapidated plantation, surrounded by cranky, spying servants who mutter about voodoo, Edward and Antoinette bicker incessantly. When a local Iago type whispers some dirt from Antoinette's past into the young man's ear, he becomes obsessed with the possibility that his wife's family is cursed. The romance between the leads never really convinces, either in their early passion or their later bouts of hatred, and the story ends somewhat abruptly.

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