An exotic and erotic melodrama bearing notable literary pedigrees, Wide Sargasso Sea is an uneven but ultimately engrossing feature. Aussie director John Duigan has filmed British novelist Jean Rhys’ novel with stunning location photography in Jamaica and the north of England, but the editing looks like the film was put through a shredder.
The initially confusing storyline concerns a mad French woman (Rachel Ward) in Jamaica who marries an Englishman (Michael York). Her daughter (lovely model Karina Lombard) is stuck in a marriage arranged by her uncle to Englishman Edward Rochester (Nathaniel Parker), the brooding hero of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.
The couple’s erotic tangles in and out of love are set against a backdrop of superstition in which the local form of voodoo seems to hold each of them in thrall.
Lombard is a hauntingly beautiful heroine well-matched to shirt-ad handsome Parker. Their acting is not really up to some dramatic scenes, particularly those in which they may be operating under the influence of voodoo. Thesping honors go to Claudia Robinson as Lombard’s sharp-tonged black nanny.