Wives and Daughters (TV Mini-Series 1999– ) Poster

(1999– )

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henry-girling24 April 2003
'Wives and Daughters' is not usually as regarded as highly as the BBC's celebrated 'Pride and Prejudice' mini-series but it is just as good in its own way. The original author Elizabeth Gaskell was a major writer of her day and can stand comparison with most novelists except perhaps for Austen and Dickens. Her work is definitely still worth reading. This particular book was unfinished but one can't fault the way Andrew Davies has rounded off the story.

The story covers Austen territory, two or three families, idiosyncratic supporting characters, love and marriage, hearth and society. All seen through the eyes of Molly Gibson. She is played splendidly by Justine Waddell who stays the centre of the film, even though surrounded by great actors like Michael Gambon, Bill Paterson, Penelope Wilton and Francesca Annis who are all perfect in their roles. The acting through out is excellent.

The characters are real people, flawed and petty and proud and anxious, but you can't help loving them. Andrew Davies wanted to put across the feeling of what it means to be alive and he does that by showing what it is like to be human. Even small scenes like the card party for the young people are rich in character and emotion. The length of the mini-series allows character development, enables one to get to know the characters. It shows ordinary life but also how rich that ordinary life is. Molly learns about people, about herself and also about the world around her, even about the little creatures who live at the bottom of ponds.

It repays watching time and again.
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Superb!!! A must see!
marcyg6818 February 2001
"Wives and Daughters" is adapted from the unfinished Victorian novel of Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell and is produced by the same creative geniuses that gave us A&E/BBC's 1995 "Pride and Prejudice."

"Wives and Daughters" is adapted from the unfinished Victorian novel of Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell and is produced by the same creative geniuses that gave us A&E/BBC's 1995 "Pride and Prejudice."

This story centers around girl-next-door Molly Gibson (Justine Waddell of "Mansfield Park," "Tess" and "Great Expectations") and her father, the town doctor (Bill Patterson). Their idyllic lives are turned upside down when Mr. Gibson remarries the selfish, self-absorbed Claire Fitzpatrick (Francesca Annis) and her beautiful daughter Cynthia (Keeley Hawes of "Our Mutual Friend") join the household. The brothers Osborne (Tom Hollander) and Roger (handsome newcomer Anthony Howell who reminds me of a young Mel Gibson) Hamley add romantic interest to the tale. However, the Hamleys come from old English stock and the squire Hamley (veteran actor Michael Gambon) desires his sons to marry into "wealthy old English families." Before long, Molly falls for Roger and Roger falls for Cynthia and we, the viewers, find some surprising discoveries along the way!!

Memorable supporting characters include the goodhearted Browning sisters, town gossip Mrs. Goodenough, mysterious Mr. Preston (Iain Glen) and the aristocratic Cumnor family. Justine Waddell is luminous as Molly and Michael Gambon and Francesca Annis turn in memorable performances. The scenery, costumes and production values are all excellent. Screenwriter Andrew Davies - who also penned P&P - gives us a satisfying, romantic new ending that would make Mrs. Gaskell proud. I loved every moment of this adaptation! If you are an Anglophile, enjoy a great love story or are a fan of Mrs. Gaskell, this is the film for you!!
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A Rare Gem
gisele2212 September 2001
After some deliberation, I have decided that this miniseries is one of my favorite movies of all time. Why? Because I can make no complaints whatsoever about this film. First, the screenplay, written by the wonderfully talented Andrew Davies of "Pride and Prejudice" (my favorite film of all time) and "Middlemarch" fame (the latter is on my list of must-sees). "Wives and Daughters" is based on the novel of the same name written by Elizabeth Gaskell. It tells the story of young Molly Gibson (Waddell), who lost her mother at a young age, but is raised by her loving father, the town doctor. When Mr. Gibson remarries, Molly's world is turned upside down. Now she has to contend with her daft and, at times, conniving stepmother, Hyacinth (Annis), and her worldly stepsister, Cynthia (Hawes). Despite their vast differences in temper, Molly and Cynthia become fast friends, but a secret from Cynthia's past stands to stain Molly's impeccable reputation. Meanwhile, Mr. Gibson's old friend, Squire Hamley, has two sons, studious Roger, and tortured Osbourne. Osbourne, the family favorite, has a few secrets of his own, but it is the younger Roger who not only proves himself the most responsible of the two, but also wins the heart of Molly and also a piece of Cynthia's as well. Will Molly finally have some happiness of her own? Well, after 3 1/2 hours, you'll find out.

Now, the actors. Superb! Justine Waddell (Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Great Expectations) is excellent and totally convincing as the strongwilled yet innocent Molly. Keeley Hawes (Cater Street Hangman, Our Mutual Friend) is wonderful as always. Bill Paterson (Mr. Gibson) is perfect as Molly's doting and protective father. And how can I forget Roger, played by Anthony Howell in his first television role? Wow, not only is he amazingly easy on the eyes, but he is a superb actor, who hails from various theatre troupes in England. The supporting actors and actresses are splendid, as well. As for the scenery and costumes, perfection. Nothing more to add on that account. One of the most memorable scenes to look out for is when Molly catches Roger's eye at a party given in his honor. I don't want to get into a lot of detail, but let me say that fortunately I recorded W&Ds, and I rewound that scene and also the last half hour at least 10 times. The ending is perfect! Definitely no disappointments. Please see "Wives and Daughters" if you already haven't. Even if you don't like period dramas, make an exception in this case!
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Extremely entertaining with some terrific performances
sdfitch214 August 2003
I found this mini-series extremely entertaining. The acting was excellent. Michael Gambon was particularly outstanding. Justine Waddell did a wonderful job with Molly. She could have been an insufferable prig, but Justine brought such sincerity and vulnerability to her that you took her to your heart. Francesca Annis touched all the right buttons with her characterisation of the social climbing wife and Bill Paterson's wry humour and warmth made his relationship with Molly all the more realistic. Every role was well performed and no-one struck an artificial note. The settings, of course, were superb. How can you fail with the wonderful wealth of historic houses and the countryside available in England. The costumes,too, were excellent. No detail was missed. This series is one you can watch several times and still find new facets in the characterisations. PLEASE let us have more of this quality. Highly recommended.
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Superb! - Buy the DVD and wallow in this marvellous production!
hesketh2713 November 2001
The BBC is well known for its high quality costume dramas and this is one of the best in recent years. Elizabeth Gaskell is not an author that I was familiar with except for her usually being known as 'Mrs. Gaskell', which immediately makes her work offer the prospect of being a bit staid. Well not a bit of it! This production is intelligent, witty and thoroughly charming throughout. When it was shown as a serial, I couldn't wait for the next episode! Every member of the cast is exceptional, but special praise for Justine Waddell and Francesca Annis. I defy anybody not to become thoroughly involved in the story of Molly and her family/friends. Elizabeth Gaskell never finished the novel, sadly dying before its completion, but I feel certain that she would have wholeheartedly approved of the BBC's ending which is absolutely heartwarming! Even if you dislike period drama, I urge you to give this one a try, I know that my DVD copy will be getting a lot of use in the coming years - many thanks BBC!
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kylealanhale17 November 2006
A treasure, really. I enjoy films portraying this period, but this is above all my favorite. The acting is incredibly touching. I was in awe with the portrayal of the story throughout its entirety.

Waddell portrayed the character of Molly so well, it made me ache for her. Her obvious childishness throughout the movie makes her eventual development so much more satisfying. She is one of the best dynamic characters I have seen on film. Paterson is all at once likable, firm, loving to his daughter, annoying, and trustworthy. Truly a real characters, full of depth, intricacies, and idiosyncrasies.

This movie reads like an excellent, cozy book. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys excellent acting and reading fine literature.
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tmann-212 July 2000
This is quite simply an exceptional piece of television theater which the BBC has justifiably gained a world wide reputation for. An outstanding cast bring to life a riveting story of ,intrigue, loyalty, and romance which will delight and enthral all devotee's of the costume drama.
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Surprisingly good and heartwarming
couzijn24 April 2003
My wife was surprised that I sat out this whole miniseries with her. In fact, that was not hard at all. I loved the story, the performances, the wit and detail, the intelligence behind the dialogues and the storyline. Even though I could see the 'happy ending' looming large over the second half of the story, there remains a LOT to enjoy. The performances are so good (maybe with the exception of the two young brothers) that I can hardly believe the actors in fact have other characters than those they enacted on screen. 'Sense and sensibility' may be another fine Victorian adaptation, but I take this 'Wives and daughters' over it any time. Wholeheartedly recommended to anyone whose heart is not made of stone or cast iron.
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Estella12 December 1999
I already knew this was going to be fab after I'd watched the first one, because I have seen lots of the BBC costume dramas, and they are always fab, and I was not disappointed in Wives and Daughters. The cast are (as always) excellent. Particulely Justine Waddel (Estella in Great Expectations) and Keeley Hawes (Lizzy in Our Mutal Friend) I can't wait for the final episode. I'm dying to see what happens!!
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Loved every second of it
Keller_Bloom1 December 2003
I have been a lover of period dramas for many years but I have to say that this is my all time favorite. Forget Pride and Prejudice, forget Sense and Sensibility, Wives and Daughters has to be the best one I have ever seen!

I loved the cast, the story, the setting everything. The story of Molly Gibson was wonderful, and I've never enjoyed a period drama quite so much! Me and Molly fell in love with Rodger and Osbourn together, and the hellish step mother story was wonderful. Coupled with her loving father this drama really gives you that warm glow inside. It was a pleasure to watch when it first came out, and is still a pleasure to watch on video.
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What a cast!!
retailmonica8 April 2010
To me, one of the hallmarks of a good movie is when I forget myself, and feel apart of the world the movie/series is trying to create. There is no sense that Justine Waddell is pretending to be Molly Gibson. She - is- Molly Gibson. And it's not just Waddell, all of the characters are convincing as real people. Mr. Gibson's emotions are so intense, and yet realistic. His humor is incredible, and he really shines next to his foil, (played by Francesca Annis).

The chemistry is just what all films strive to have. If you like Michael Gambon at all, you cannot miss his performance. Many of the characters are conflicting in their temperaments. One of the characters actually makes a note of it. To find so many actors who can show love, compassion, anger, joy, depression, indifference, anxiety... they are all so dynamic.

In general, I find that period pieces (which I ADORE) fall into a couple different categories. Some of the ones from the 80s are rather stuffy for the casual viewer. If you liked the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice, give this a try. It doesn't have the pace of that film, but it has a similar chemistry for a modest sized cast, and also it's more visually pleasing than older period pieces.

You can also get a better sense of the actors' skills by seeing their other films as well. Similar films with these characters include, among many:

Cranford - Barbara Flynn, Deborah Findlay, Michael Gambon, Francesca Annis

(1995 P&P) - Barbara Leigh-Hunt

Sense and Sensibility - Elizabeth Spriggs

Mansfield Park - Justine Waddell

(2005 P&P) - Tom Hollander, Rosamund Pike

Cranford is also based on Elizabeth Gaskell's writings... so if you enjoy this, by all means, see Cranford!

Wives and Daughters is in my top 5 :)
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Great Film!!!
awarix9 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
My mother, sisters, and I watched this movie, and loved it! It's really almost as good as a Jane Austin Movie. The characters were well thought out, and neatly portrayed by the actors and actresses. The plot was excellent! You seriously didn't know what was going to happen next! It has a good ending, although, one thing I didn't understand. Molly and Roger never kiss! He kisses her step-sister (and might I add, it was a rather big kiss), but he never gets around to kissing her! It's kind of funny. But, I guess that none of them are really romantic. Although, you don't have to be romantic to give a little smooch, do you? Besides that, I don't think that there was anything else wrong. It was a great movie, and, Lord willing, will go right up there with our Pride & Prejudice DVD collection. I highly recommend that you watch this film. I'm sure you'll love it as much as I did!
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This series doesn't need another rave review, but…
The_late_Buddy_Ryan31 March 2013
The BBC version of Elizabeth Gaskell's "Cranford" a few years back was mostly about Dame Judi and her spinster cronies and their unbecoming bonnets, but this wonderful series, based on Mrs. G's last novel, focuses on the younger generation: Roger Hamley, the old squire's younger son, seems like a perfect match for Molly Gibson, the doctor's daughter; he's a budding naturalist, she reads Lamarck and other serious works; they both enjoy looking at pondwater through the microscope.

The problem is that Molly's father has just remarried, which brings Cynthia, a vivacious, not-so-serious stepsister, into the picture; before he sets out on a lengthy expedition, Roger proposes to Cynthia. This leaves Molly with plenty of time to help the other characters sort things out—Cynthia's unfortunate entanglement with a caddish young striver (Iain Glen, currently seen on "Game of Thrones"), Roger's older brother's estrangement from their temperamental father (a perfect part for Michael Gambon; twenty years after Waterloo, the old squire's still hatin' on the French).

Master adapter Andrew Davies, assisted by a near-perfect cast, really gets us involved in such no-longer-burning questions as whether a young lady who's "lost her character" by talking with a young man in a secluded spot could get it back by swanning around town for an afternoon with a peer's daughter; Rosamund Pike is charming, and gets to wear the best costumes, as the latter (I wanted to call her the duchess ex machina, but I think she's just the daughter of an earl).

Francesca Annis is clearly enjoying herself in the role of Molly's stepmother, Hyacinth, a scheming, moralizing ex-governess; Dad seems to find her adorable, because she's not the boss of him and, despite the unflattering Mid-Victorian coiffure, she's still Francesca Annis. Though Mrs. Gaskell was a reformer and a progressive on the issues of her day—she clearly approves of Molly and Cynthia's ladylike revolt against the town's gossips and prigs—it's interesting that she weighs in on the current stay-at-home-mom debate by portraying Cynthia as a fractious adolescent who resents her mother for "abandoning" her to go to work as a governess.

Justine Waddell may be a bit too glamorous for the part of Molly, but that doesn't strike me as a dealbreaker; Keeley Hawes, who seems to have had a corner on out-of-control ingenue roles that year (see "The Last September"), is just right for Cynthia. Available on streaming Netflix and Amazon Prime.
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Really brilliant, among the best that the BBC has ever done
TheLittleSongbird2 July 2014
Anybody who loves a good adaptation of a book, lovely period detail, compelling storytelling and great writing and acting should find no real reason to not enjoy Wives and Daughters. As an adaptation, Wives and Daughters is hardly disappointing, some might be underwhelmed by the ending but the book's incompleteness does deserve some of the blame here but the adaptation does show loyalty to the book while telling it intricately and freshly. I however have always found it fairer to judge an adaptation on its own, and on its own Wives and Daughters is brilliant and you don't even have to have read the book to enjoy what is personally considered one of the best series the BBC has ever done. The scenery and locations are stunning and the costumes, hair(didn't have much of a problem with Rosamund Pike's in Episode 4) and make-up are true to period and a feast on the eye, which is always a great starting point for a period drama adaptation. The music is quirky yet at other times understated and is never obtrusive, letting the story speak for itself when needed. The dialogue is incredibly thought-provoking with splashes of humour, ranging from subtle and hilarious, and emotional impact, and the story has every nuance and detail of society at the time down-pat and spot on and the telling of it is done loyally while fresh and relevant and intricate while never dragging or being too staid or faithful. The characters are immensely engaging and are developed just fine, Gaskell's characters like George Eliot's and Charles Dickens's were quite flesh-and-blood-like and there is a sense of that here. You'd think that you'd be annoyed by characters like Lady Harriet, but actually you might find that she later becomes one of your favourites when she stands up for Molly. The acting is superb from all, especially from Michael Gambon who is gruff yet poignant and Francesca Annis who makes a formidable character genuinely beastly. Justine Waddell is excellent never comes across as too perfect considering her type of character and Keeley Hawes is incredibly charming and naturally. Bill Paterson is likable and admirably restrained and Tom Hollander, who plays a conflicted character most touchingly, and Anthony Howell, who is effortlessly dashing, provide the heart of the drama without problem. The beautiful Rosamund Pike is wonderfully feisty and forceful(the scene on the carriage is very funny) and also elegant and dignified, it's a fairly small role but Pike makes a lot out of it. All in all, a brilliant series and adaptations. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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one of the best mini series ever....my opinion anyway
lescol0912 September 2005
a wonderful movie/mini series. fits the book perfectly. Justine Waddell plays the role of molly Gibson without a single mistake, and i'm sure if Ms Elizabeth Gaskall was still here today she would agree. I really liked the charm and simplicity of this film. I loved how you could read the actors thoughts and expressions clearly and the actor were one with the characters in the book. I found a little fault with Molly going with Roger to Africa. Ladies of that time most likely wouldn't have done such a thing. The scene in the rain was very romantic though. I thought it was funny how Roger and Molly never kissed. he kisses Cynthia, which is in the book, but never poor old Molly! I love Wives and Daughters, there is simply no more i can say!
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Put another warm novel on the fire, dear
Philby-329 May 2000
The BBC, its co-production partners and financiers and Andrew Davies the scriptwriter churn out literary adaptions with great regularity – superior period soap production. The acting's good, the costumes gorgeous, the settings historically perfect, the ending usually known for the last 150 years. Dickens, George Elliot, Jane Austen, Thackeray, the Brontes and all the rest continue to fill Sunday night schedules and rate reasonably well. Although one is left with the impression that here is a group of consummate professionals playing safe and doing it on autopilot, Eng Lit TV is usually watchable and `Wives' is no exception.

We have the usual not very pretty but intelligent and moral heroine, this time Molly Gibson (Justine Waddell), her loving if a little abstracted father (Bill Patterson), her shallow and snobbish stepmother (Francesca Annis), her pretty but silly step-sister (Keeley Hawes), the local squire, Hamley, (Michael Gambon, particularly good) and his sons Osborne and Roger (Tom Hollander and Anthony Howell) and various other village characters. A couple of Grade I heritage homes (Wentworth Woodhouse in South Yorkshire and some place in Wiltshire) for background and balls and lots of horses and carriages. Plenty of servants but they are kept in the background. This is middle class drama, thank you.

The plot (‘reader, I married him') is not exactly new. The theme (be good and you'll be alright) is pretty trite. The feminist point – the utter domination by fathers over their wives and daughters is well taken but it has to be said the sons got a fair bit of ordering about too. The fathers, however, are not presented as ogres, but as fallible men trying to their duty as they see it, though giving full vent to their prejudices as they do so. The aristocracy, in the shape of the local magnate, Lord Cumnor (Ian Carmichael, 80 and poor guy, still being cast as a good-natured silly ass), and his wife and daughter, are cast in a surprisingly good light. Lady Harriet the daughter (Rosamund Pike) practically acts as Molly's guardian angel. Why? `She's a nice girl'. So virtue is rewarded.

The book itself was not finished when Elizabeth Gaskell, a protégé of Dickens, died suddenly in 1866. Andrew Davies supplies a happy ending, and a happy ending us 20th century folks will approve of, since the happy couple are united on a equal plane, somewhere in Ethiopia it appears. In reality, Molly would have been left behind in England to look after the children while Roger chased after beetles and native women in Africa. But this is Romance, not life.

Anyway, the next on the list is `Northanger Abbey'. I'm sure it will fill a cold Sunday evening.
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One of the very best BBC classic mini-series
robert-temple-122 January 2014
The words 'magnificent, wonderful, superb' all tumble off one's tongue as one exclaims upon the excellence of this mini-series which is, frankly, a work of art. One of the things which makes it is its absolutely perfect casting. There is not even the hint of a false note anywhere. The film features what may be the most brilliant and moving performance by Michael Gambon of his entire career, and that is saying a lot, considering his body of work and that he is one of the finest actors ever produced by Britain. But the central jewel of the production is the lead performance by Justine Waddell, who represents everything in the round that she is meant to be, and is so far from being a cardboard character that she is positively four-dimensional and radiantly glowing with warmth and life. Rarely has a classic mini-series been so fortunate in the inspired casting of a young heroine. And the other two young women in the story are also brilliantly played by Rosamund Pike ('she who rises to the surface') and Keeley Hawes (who had just finished making a feature film with Gambon, THE LAST September). Waddell's father is played to perfection by Bill Paterson. Everyone is not only good but excellent, and that applies equally to Francesca Annis, who drives us all mad by playing one of the most irritating women imaginable (Waddell's step-mother) with such utter conviction, and with every tiny mannerism intact, that it is impossible to watch without wanting to wring her neck. (Was she attacked in the street by exasperated viewers after this mini-series aired, one wonders.) And although she only appears in the early part of the mini-series and then dies, we must not forget one of England's finest actresses, Penelope Wilton, as Gambon's wife, seen here once again at her recurrent best. And then there is Iain Glen as 'a passionate tiger' of a man prowling round and driving some women mad with all that sexual energy, who has been yet another victim of the inconstant Hawes, whose affections are as flitting as a moth's flight. And there is also good Tom Hollander, suffering admirably in his intolerable position of being secretly married but unable to tell his father. Elizabeth Gaskell's last novel is the basis of this mini-series, brilliantly scripted by that old hand at such things, Andrew Davies. The direction by Nicholas Renton is masterful and inspired. I am not at all well-read in 19th century English fiction but 'they say' that Mrs. Gaskell, as she is generally known, was most remarkable (the DVD has a half-hour extra about her) and 'better than Dickens and Jane Austen'. Well, I think there is no doubt she ranks with them in any case. This story is laden with deep emotion, loss, intrigue, tragedy, pathos, joy and happiness all thrown together, and you never know which will emerge moment by moment as the complex tale moves forward with its many characters, with Justine Waddell playing a young woman of excellent character, Miss Gibson, who is at the centre of it all. The story has a brief and dreamy preamble in which Miss Gibson as a child meets 'the grand people', and then the main story begins with the touching father-daughter friendship of Waddell and the her loving father, the widower Paterson, a village doctor, which is then interrupted by his precipitate decision to remarry a woman who seems charming but who suddenly turns into a nightmare (Annis). She won't even permit her husband to eat cheese, his favourite food, because its smell offends her, and her ludicrous social affectations are truly nauseating. This was an admirable opportunity for Mrs. Gaskell to throw her darts at social pretensions, and she never misses. The lives of the Gibsons are constantly intertwined with those of the Squire (Gambon) and his family, and hovering also just beyond the fringe of the main action are Lord and Lady Cumnor, 'the grand people of Cumnor Towers', a huge stately home with lots of marble and suffocating grandeur, who are to be decisive in the story eventually. The local inhabitants are called by them 'the townspeople', and all the townswomen curtsy to the Cumnors if they encounter them even in the street. So we see a portrait of a highly stratified society, but no servants enter into the story. (I almost said serfs!) This is not an upstairs/downstairs story at all. It is about the high and the low, but not about the lowly. To try to summarize the complicated story, which evolves majestically over 301 minutes, not one second of which is boring, would take, well, 301 minutes, so shall not be attempted here. Anyone with good sense who has not seen this yet will buy the DVD immediately. Failure to do so will result in the administration of 301 strokes of the ruler across the back of the hand, exile to the colonies, or being left alone in a room for an hour with Francesca Annis in character. But such fates are reserved only for those who fail to buy the DVD. Those who do have instead a most pleasant fate, that of being mesmerised for five hours of thrilling drama. Truly, this mini-series is sublime.
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=G=22 December 2004
"Wives and Daughters" is cut from the same cloth as "The Forsyte Saga" or "Mansfield Park" inasmuch as it is a Victorian soap opera about the this and that of 19th century English country life. The film centers on and swirls about Molly Gibson (Waddell), the somewhat plain but earnest teenage daughter of a physician, as it explores the ever crisscrossing lives of several neighboring families of varying station. A delightful look at the role of the distaff from matron to maid which imparts the flavor of the period, "Wives and Daughters" is a light-hearted drama laced with charm and wit which should appeal to anyone into films of the robust Victorian period. (B+)
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Wonderful Discovery
misctidsandbits29 August 2013
Where has this film been or where have I been concerning this film? I found it in passing in a library period film search and then got busy and almost didn't play it. So very glad I did. I understand the author is a lesser known for some reason, and there is a move to bring her works to the forefront. If this isn't the cream of her crop, it is likely close. This film stands up against the most popular period presentations of the last several decades. Excellently produced, spot-on casting and portrayals, overall even pace. The surpassing feature, however, is the emotional depth of the characters. These people come to life in full dimension. There's an even flow of them, without so much extreme bad or good. Along with that, characters embody weaknesses and vulnerabilities along with their strengths. It's an effective and affecting film experience.

I ran into something on this one that happens with me from time to time on this type of film, and that is the variance between my taste in looks and beauty and those of the time. For example here, between the two son, Osbourne is said to be the handsomest and Roger to be plain in looks. I find it the opposite. Found this in "Pride & Prejudice" as well, preferring Elizabeth Bennett's looks over her sister, Jane, who is credited the beauty in the film.

Regardless, this is a super outstanding period film I will be ready to share with all my friends who enjoy these and definitely add to my favorites. It conveys its characters and the story gently, but very effectively. There is much of interest and variety. It is realistic in showing flaws in persons and customs, who change in some respects, but do not undergo unbelievable transformations. I like it that the film demonstrates the reward of patience and endurance and the folly of self-indulgence and stubborn prejudice. There is wit, humor, depth and shallowness of character, joys and sorrows, generosity and self-centeredness, wisdom and frivolity.

Dr. Gibson may well become one of my all-time favorite male characters from fiction. He is gratifying throughout, though tried and vexed, weighs in like gold in the punches. While open and accommodating to his new female household additions, he never compromises his tender watch care for his own beloved daughter. I love it when he tells the squire that she needs to come home now and receive some cosseting herself. He holds his own with the gentry along with the regular folk. He and his faithful girl are two of the most valued and respected denizens of their community. The new wife and step-mother is also a remarkable character, for a different reason, with her unrelenting zeal to tweak all about her. I love it that, though giving her proper place, the two girls do not allow her to "live in their place," but make their voices heard with spirit. She was entirely well played here, giving much interest throughout. Though we see her some mollified at the end by life's vicissitudes, we also sense she will definitely rise again. I really enjoyed the two girls hitting it off. Though light weight on steady character, Cynthia brings some playfulness and fun in needed relief to Molly's older-than-her-years intensity. However, there is a period of angst over Molly's being made use of to cover Cynthia's inconsistencies.

I definitely want to read the book and will likely purchase both. Many of these characters have a classic quality about them, the kind that becomes a type of reference. I'll also be seeking out this author's other works and will likely find them keepers as well if they are anything like this marvel.
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Nice ending, but long, drawn-out, contrived melodrama in the middle.
dsmjets13 November 2003
Having just spent five hours watching this mini-series, I feel the need to warn IMDb readers just how surprisingly downbeat and unpleasant it really is, for the most part. I'm giving it only 4 out of 10 stars, because I don't much care for somber soap operas, even when they have a satisfying ending.

However, I must say that the movie is not without its good points. The entire cast is excellent, from the beautiful star (who is supposed to be a "rather plain" girl), all the way down to the heroine (who has a truly great closing line). And the production values, the scenery, and the dialogue are all very good as well.

It's just that the whole thing seems frequently bleak and/or shrill. And there's very little comic relief, except for the stepmother, who is played wonderfully, and also two other characters, who I think were supposed to be old maid sisters. (I have to admit to getting character overload when watching this kind of movie.)

Anyway, if a heavy romantic drama is your cup of tea, then you might enjoy this one. But give me the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma any day.
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Good *may contain spoilers*
AranelArwen8 October 2005
This movie was very good! I'm a huge fan of P&P and was hoping this would be just as good. It defiantly came very close. This movie is more mature then P&P and I would not recommend it for girls (boys won't want to see it) under 10. It was very "heart wrenching" and I got pretty emotional while watching it. There are 2 d-words both sorta hard to understand so that may fly over kids heads. Lots of flirting goes on with Clarice. And once you see both Molly and Clarice in they're corsets so lots of cleavage is shown. Another time you see Clarice again with just her corset. Then at one point Molly is talking to Clarice while she's in her bed and Clarice's nightgown's shoulder is falling off and I think she doesn't have anything (bra-like) on underneath. But that is difficult to see. And once Osborne kiss's and fondles his wife's stomach ('cus she pregnant) though nothing sexual parents may be uncomfortable with it. Plus, there is some talk about Molly "losing her virtue". All in all the sexual, language and violence content isn't very high so I think it would be a great "chick flick" for Moms and Daughters to enjoy together.
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Great adaptation, disappointing ending
marspeach31 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I loved the book Wives and Daughters and was relieved Andrew Davies didn't sex up the miniseries too much. The casting was excellent-really brought all the wonderful characters from the book to life. One grumble was the disparity in the heights between the Hamley brothers but I got over it.

The only thing that disappointed me was the ending. We get this great proposal scene in the rain that is so charged because they can't touch each other so you expect a nice kiss to happen after that but.... nope. I doubt Roger would really take Molly to Africa or even go there at all after he was married but couldn't they at least have a kiss scene? Oh well, still a great miniseries.
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Gorgeous production, brilliant cast with only one serious flaw...
Doylenf8 June 2011
JUSTINE WADDELL gives a charming, completely believable performance as young Molly Gibson, supposedly the plainer of the two heroines, overlooked by the leading man until the romantic ending. And the cast surrounding her is full of memorable character actors, including MICHAEL GAMBON who almost steal the show single-handedly with his gruff interpretation of the frustrated country squire, and BILL PATERSON as Molly's wise and sympathetic father.

FRANCESCA ANNIS is a revelation as the giddy step-mother from hell, anxious to see her vain and shallow daughter (KEELEY HAWES) married to a man of wealth and position no matter what the circumstances are. But the flaw in the cast comes with Miss Hawes, who is seriously in need of dubbing to make her dialog clear to American viewers. She drops her voice mid-sentence in many a scene, barely above a whisper, and her enunciation is enough to drive Professor Higgins to distraction.

She is the only element in the large cast that is worthy of any criticism. IAIN GLEN makes an impression as Mr. Preston, the mysterious figure in the story whose attraction to the shallow Cynthia (KEELEY HAWES) is hard to understand given that Justine Waddell is so enchanting as the "plain" heroine.

Wonderfully produced in the best British tradition and based on the book by Elizabeth Glaskell, it's visually striking and set against backgrounds and settings that perfectly capture the period atmosphere.

For lovers of Victorian melodrama, this is a must see with an excellent background score. It could have used a stronger ending for the final scene in the rain, but it's satisfying enough on all other counts.
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A Victorian family drama..
sushankonar27 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
My judgment has probably been clouded by the fact that I watched this one between series two and three of 'Lark Rise to Candleford'. The basic settings and premises of both are similar, and a comparison is but inevitable. Though the storytelling and the settings have been done to perfection it can't hold a candle to the Candleford saga because it fails to tug at the heartstrings. Moreover, for an Indian viewer, sick and tired of the never ending and clichéd 'saas-bahu' (mother-in-law & daughter-in-law) sagas, the 'Wives and Daughters' (with a selfish stepmother playing the customary role of the mother-in-law) does look like a sober and mellowed down fare from the same genre.
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A weak Victorian Comedy
harrysdixonjr12 December 2006
This video is an interesting mistake. They seemed to have missed the comedy despite a superb cast of women who could handle comedy.

Is it an early sudser? or a sitcom? The literary pretenses are a little silly. The plot and character manipulations are so mechanical that the fact that this is a piece of commercial fiction is obvious.

This video proved that mediocre fiction should be edited down to a film no more than two hours long.

The extra materials were dull. Was the Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone the story of Mrs. Gaskell's endless trips to Italy? Did she have only genteel boyfriends from Boston, or did she sample the local color? Did proper English ladies go to Rome for gigolos in those days? or were there enough in London? Why can't the BBC stop being so respectable and give us some good gossip?
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