Jamaica Inn Review
Based on Daphne Du Maurier’s classic novel of the same name, Jamaica Inn tells the story of recently orphaned Mary Yellan (Jessica Brown Findlay of Downton Abbey fame) who has no choice but to move in with her Aunt and Uncle. When she arrives at Jamaica Inn, she discovers her new situation is less than ideal. Not only is her Uncle Joss clearly involved in a smuggling business, but perhaps murder as well…
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Then there is a mysterious man, one who holds power over Joss and everyone around him. Mary is in a lot of danger, and surrounded by secrets that makes this mini-series almost as Gothic as Du Maurier’s Rebecca. Aside from danger and intrigue, Mary can’t help but begin to fall for Joss’s brother Jem (played by the handsome Matthew McNulty).
Finally available in the U.S. (the 3 episodes now streaming weekly on Acorn TV), Jamaica Inn has a lot to offer fans of costume and period dramas. For those who love darker romantic dramas like Jane Eyre and Rebecca, you may just find yourself getting sucked into this atmospheric adaptation.
One of the strongest elements of this adaptation is the characterization of Mary. With just a touch of the outsider, Mary reminds me a little of Kit in The Witch of Blackbird Pond. She’s not afraid to be different, and she’s not afraid to have an opinion. But her differences also make her a threat. How can she be protected in a place where the constable attempted to rape her (the scene isn’t very graphic) and she has no idea who to trust?
One person I do trust is the charismatic Jem. Findlay’s chemistry with McNulty is strong and believable. I found myself rooting for Jem and Mary with merely the first glance he threw her way. Every time McNulty left the screen, I kept eagerly anticipating his return. Without a doubt, this romantic duo is the strongest part of Jamaica Inn, and if you love romantic period dramas (ones with a touch of the Gothic), then I don’t see how you can go wrong here.
Ultimately, this is another wonderful BBC period drama production worth checking out. The performances are engaging (though Joss’ accent is a little hard to understand at times without subtitles), the setting beautifully shot, the script well written (though separate from the book), and the story engrossing. Yes, there are slow moments, but for those who love classic novels, I don’t believe this will be a problem in the slightest. Overall, if you are looking for another great costume drama to add to your list, and are fans of either Jessica Brown Findlay or Matthew McNulty, Jamaica Inn is a good bet. For those interested, you can try out a trial month at Acorn TV for free.
Photo Credit: Acorn TV/BBC
“The stuff that dreams are made of.”
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.
I have loved none but you.”
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