This rollicking yarn, set during the Napoleonic War and made for British television, features both panoramic sweep and solid character development. French officer Jacques St. Ives (Jean Marc Barr) would rather make love than fight, though his skills in both regards are legendary. The scion of guillotined aristocrats, St. Ives has reinvented himself as a patriot of the people and after he's captured by the English he winds up in a POW camp in the Scottish Highlands. His noble bearing catches the eye of visiting do-gooders Flora Gilchrist (Anna Friel) and her aunt, Susan (Miranda Richardson); the camp's overseer, the Major (Richard E. Grant), also values St. Ives' good judgment. Flora deduces that St. Ives is related to a French expatriate count (Michael Gough) who now lives a few miles from the stockade; St. Ives has always assumed that his entire family perished during the French Revolution and has no idea that his brother, Alain (Jason Isaacs), escaped to the Count's highland estate. St. Ives escapes the camp and the Count, who's had just about enough of the wastrel Alain, acknowledges St. Ives's birthright. But Alain accidentally kills the Count during a quarrel, claims sole ownership of his fortune and throws his brothers on the tender mercies of the authorities. Forced to flee Scotland in a hot air balloon (with the hapless Major hanging onto the ropes), St. Ives makes his way back to France and rejoins his regiment. Alain retaliates by kidnapping Flora, hoping to use her as bait and recapture the fugitive. Can Jacques St. Ives reclaim his brother's affection, or will he become another casualty of Alain's greed? This loose adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's vigorous potboiler should please action fans with its vigorous swordplay, but the real reason to watch is for the interplay between the the well-drawn characters. The odd-couple friendship between St. Ives and the Major is tremendously entertaining and the bonds of kinship that connect Flora and Aunt Susan are refreshing.
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- Released: 2001
- Rating: R
- Review: This rollicking yarn, set during the Napoleonic War and made for British television, features both panoramic sweep and solid character development. French officer Jacques St. Ives (Jean Marc Barr) would rather make love than fight, though his skills in bot… (more)