Rated: R for nudity and language. Reviewed by: Frank Release date: October 13, 1995 Released by: Hollywood Pictures
As the film begins, there is a disclaimer stating "loosely adapted from Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel." It is a telling line. The film is filled with beautiful scenery and a great musical score, but not much else.
Director Roland Joffe was brilliant in his first film, The Killing Fields. The Mission, a confusing, overly dramatic mess was next. The Scarlet Letter is far from The Killing Fields and a cozy cousin to The Mission.
The story is not so far from today's reality. The classic idea of not trusting those who are different causing destruction in a society, is clearly at work in today's world. This presentation, however is maudlin, dull and slow. The events in the story should raise passion and emotions, but in the hands of director Joffe, they are simply events from an outdated society.
Hester Prynne (Demi Moore) comes to the Massachusetts Bay Colony form England to prepare a new home for herself and her husband Roger (Robert Duvall), who is to join her later. She quickly runs afoul of the Puritan town by living alone. When she desperately falls in love with the town preacher (Gary Oldman), their one affair produces a child. That is the cause for which Hester Prynne must wear The Scarlet Letter A for adultery.
Husband Roger suddenly appears in the village after being assumed dead. He is filled with hate and sets out to discover who fathered the child and destroy him. It all leads to the destruction of the once pleasant village.
Duvall looks and acts ridiculous, Moore is okay and Oldman is very effective. There is some good, but overall this film lacks luster, passion and sufficient drama to hod attention.
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