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Dreaming Of Joseph Lees Review

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Somerset, 1958, and Eva is in love with her cousin, Joseph Lees, a one-legged paleontologist. Since he's always away on digs, she hooks up instead with womanising farmer Harry. But when Lees reappears, her passion for him changes all three lives.

★★★★

The future looks bright for the star of this barnstorming rural melodrama. Having already turned in a convincing display of Oirishness in Waking Ned, the Isle Of Man demonstrates its versatility here with a striking impersonation of Somerset in the 1950s. Sadly, the human perpetrators of this novelettish nonsense have considerably less cause for optimism -not that this crass tale of simple country folk will curtail anyone's career, but few emerge from it with much credit.

Even though her parents have separated, Eva (Morton) still believes passionately in enduring love. Hence her obsession with her cousin Joseph Lees (Graves), a palaeontologist who lost his leg while researching in Italy. However, there's little room for romance in her grim West Country community and she marries Harry (Ross), a womanising pig farmer who sweeps her away with his charm.

Naturally, the arrival of the limping Lees turns Eva's little world upside down and she embarks upon a dangerous liaison that should have sparked an examination of the moral code that gripped Britain on the cusp of the Swinging Sixties or, at least, a look at how remote some parts of the country really were at the back end of this austere decade. But Catherine Linstrum's script opts instead for a penny dreadful parody of Thomas Hardy, with the increasingly barking Harry even going so far as to run a limb through the buzz saw to get his rivalry on an equal footing.

Given Eric Styles' overwrought direction, the cast do well to keep the laugh-out-loud excesses down to mere smirks, with Morton even occasionally managing to capture the anguish caused by the period's stand-by-your-man mentality. But as far as this farm is concerned, it's cold comfort all the way.