Good Scenery, Dull Characters in Romance Story
Acorn Media has released a set of 4 DVDs titled “Shades of Love” (2011), based on works by Rosamunde Pilcher, writer of romances. While I know that many viewers will like this 4-part miniseries because of its fine acting (with one exception) and beautiful Scottish locations, I could not build up any enthusiasm at all during the six hours of running time. Possibly, I just dislike the genre; but all I can give is my opinion.
Just to set the stage, there are two upper class families. At Bainard House are Edmund and Virginia Aird (Charles Dance and Eleonore Weisgerber) and their children, Henry (Liam Evans-Ford), Alexa (Susanna Simon), and Laura (Rebeca Night). Alexa is married to the unpleasant villain of the piece, Noel (Adrian Lukis). In residence is also Edmund’s mother Violet (Eileen Atkins), who like so many characters in this sort of story, will do anything to cover up any unpleasantness for the sake of the family’s reputation.
At Balmerino, we have Archie and Isobel (Anthony Higgins and Harriet Walter). Their son Hamish (Johannes Zirner) is in love with Laura but unwilling to declare his feelings, and their daughter Lucilla (Susan Anbeh), while Alexa’s best friend, is having an affair with Noel. And add to the mixture Archie’s sister Pandora, who died before the story begins.
At the start of the first part, a man named Conrad Tucker (Michael Brandon) sees a picture of Laura in a magazine and is sure she is really his daughter. Further along the way, yet another character discovers a love-child named Olivia (Esther Schweins). And rotten Noel blackmails someone to be voted in as Chairman of the Board in Edmund’s company, a post slated for Henry.
And so on and so on.
All of this would be just fine, if only the characters were more interesting. This whole tale is plot-driven when it should be character-driven. They all act predictably and even the rat Noel holds no surprises. Iago and Richard III are fun; Noel is simply predictable.
The cast does what they can with the roles as written and do a good job as they go from one romance cliché to another. The rotten apple is Rebecca Night as Laura. Sorry, but I find her a terrible actress with a voice that is like the sound of feet slushing through a marsh. And since she is a central character, I began to find all the scenes in which she appears grating. But that is my opinion and many are bound to disagree.
Each episode runs 91 minutes and there are subtitles.