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Michael Winterbottom directs Hossein Amini's adaptation of Hardy's scandalous novel of 1894 that even Edmund Gosse described as grimy and indecent. Christopher Eccleston stars as the self-improving, tragic Jude with Kate Winslet as the wilful object of his desire.

Adam Mars-Jones declared it "a little triumph ... The acting is excellent all the way to the edges of the film." "Powerful, wonderfully photographed ... If Jude simplifies the story it never emasculates it ... Hardy would surely approve," eulogised the FT. "Minimises the downside of Hardy's bleakest novel," smiled Variety. "A beautifully modulated performance, Winslet gives Jude a real shot in the arm, not quite enough though," declared the Times. "A tale of protracted glumness ... High marks for literary fidelity. But as screen entertainment it's a different story," agreed the Standard. "An ambitious, sensitive, but ultimately uninvolving effort," judged Time Out.

Cert 15, on selected release across the country.

Winterbottom has made brave choices and come up trumps with Hardy's powerfully sombre novel.



Lynne Dawson sings the title role in Gluck's rarely revived 1774 opera drawn from Euripides. Tim Hopkins directs, Nigel Lowery designs and the cast also includes Della Jones. Christopher Purves as Agamemnon makes his company debut.

Antony Peattie gave it a guarded welcome. "For all its eccentricities, Opera North's new staging never gets in the way of the music. An intense, occasionally brusque interpretation ... a work as remarkable as it is neglected." "Misadventured ... Lynne Dawson sings with ravishing sweetness ... but neither producer nor conductor has feeling for Gluck's genius as a musical dramatist," groaned the Times. "I have certainly seldom endured anything on stage that looked more vacuously chic ... best of all was the lovely Lynne Dawson." "A fascinating production ... a fine piece of story-telling," praised the Yorkshire Post.

Tonight, Wed and Fri at Leeds Grand (0113-245 9351) and then touring.

An evening of mixed fortunes, but a rarity that should be seen.



Kate Ashfield, Andrew Clover, James Kennedy, Antony Ryding and Robin Soans star in Mark Ravenhill's first full-length play, a tough, brutally funny look at (s)exploitation, commercialism and violence for Max Stafford-Clark's company Out of Joint.

Paul Taylor relished Ravenhill's "eye for the blackly comic bizarreries of this tragic, emotionally shrink-wrapped world" and "the chance to see a real talent at work". "The latest contribution to a growing genre, the drama of disenchantment ... Trainspotting with more sex and fewer laughs," grumbled the Times. "The play's impact is as short-lived as the pre-packed, throwaway meals on which the characters survive," sniffed the FT.

"So desolate and at times so moving ... scenes of savage humour and disgusting degradation throb in the memory," admired the Telegraph. "An uncontrolled talent," decided the Guardia

At the Theatre Upstairs at the Ambassadors, London WC2 (0171-565 5000) until 19 Oct and then on tour.

Strong stuff, although more in terms of intent than act or vocabulary. Excellent acting in a notably clear production.