Tess - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Tess Reviews

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November 2, 2016
It's a beautiful, lavish and compelling film. Kinski is not that convincing as an Englishwoman, but it doesn't seem to affect the film. The story is not completely edifying, but nevertheless it is epic.
August 16, 2016
one of the greatest "Are you fucking kidding me " endings in film and literature.
July 30, 2016
It truly is visually beautiful and extremely well crafted. This period piece drama can be savored only even by its aesthetic beauty.
June 11, 2016
"-A victim is always a victim"
½ March 24, 2016
Romani Polanski directs the tragedy Tess. Tess is a poor British girl who realizes shes actually of an old rich family. She seeks out her heritage only to find it bought out by a wealthier family. Her beauty attracts her would be cousin who eventually rapes her. The rest of the film bears tragedy on Tess as she carries this burden among many other things along with her. Tess is the ultimate tragic film and is one depressing moment after another. It is not enough to make one cry, but it is as dreary as a film can get. The film is excessively long, and quite a burden, but certainly hits the spot in a dull moment. Nastassja Kinski is beautiful and carries the film extremely well as her innocent look make all the tragedy that falls upon all the more tragic.
Super Reviewer
February 17, 2016
A resonant and visually stunning period piece about a beautiful but unfortunate young woman born in an ungrateful time and divided between two men who are bound to abuse her - and even if the film may feel too long, the cinematography and art direction are a marvel to behold.
September 20, 2015
Casi cada toma de esta adaptación del libro de Thomas Hardy (autor de la obra maestra "Jude the Obscure") es como ver una pintura, gracias a su bella dirección fotográfica, y a la visión de Roman Polanski, incluyendo una gran banda sonora, y la vulnerable presencia de Nastassja Kinski.
½ September 2, 2015
* My favourite *
No one can make this adaptation better than Polanski.
July 26, 2015
Toda a beleza estética do filme (fotografia, figurino e design de produção premiados com o Oscar) empalidece graças aos questionáveis valores oferecidos pelo filme.
June 22, 2015
Restored Criterion edition. Yup. Still love this film. Still a favorite. Her non-Brit accent still doesn't bug. Why? Polanski's best film? Maybe.
½ March 5, 2015
And the moral of the story is... the 1890s were Not that kind for love and marriage. basically, if you were a man decided to take a woman as your own, even if the women didn't love the man, that was basically 'marriage' without it being real - and God help the woman if she actually wanted to get married to someone else who loved her back. no, 'not that kind' doesn't cut it. fucked was more like it.

visually arresting (via the late 2001 DP Unsworth), an utterly compelling breakthrough in the lady Kinski... occasionally quite dry, but made up for by the passions (shown or shoved under the rug) of the characters.
½ January 20, 2015
Adaptaciòn de una famosa obra a cargo del genial Roman Polanski, pelicula que recibiò muchas distinciones el año de su estreno, tambièn gracias a la interpretaciòn de la bella Natasha Kinski.
½ January 4, 2015
Review In A Nutshell:

When one hears the name Roman Polanski, most would recall titles like Chinatown, The Pianist, The Ghost Writer, Rosemary's Baby, The Knife in the Water, or The Tenant. For me, the titles that appear in my mind are Tess, Frantic, Macbeth, and Rosemary's Baby (because this one is damn impressive); even if they are lesser than the previously mentioned. I recall these films because they contain either a set of cinematographic beauty or a compelling leading character that stays with you long after they end; it does not matter if their screenplays are inferior to Polanski's other works.

Tess is an adaptation of the classic novel, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy, which I have not read; ergo my feelings towards this film will be based on what the film only projected onto me. Its premise is a fascinating one that covers the life of this young girl, built with immaculate and outstanding beauty, and the trouble that attribute has caused her. Tess is a woman full of innocence and grace before hearing the truth of her family's past; descendants of a noble name and family. It is through this knowledge, similar to what Polanski has shown in Macbeth, beginning to consume the minds of the family's parental figures, ambitiously hoping and striving for what they consider to be also theirs; they send their daughter Tess to the d'Urbervilles for employment.

It was when she steps into the d'Urbervilles' manor that she was immediately introduced, and slowly seduced, by her cousin Alec d'Urbervilles. Alec's high stature within society has made him such a selfish and cunning individual, taking what he desires, regardless of how the other person would feel; and he does so with patience and cunningness, he pounces on Tess at her most vulnerable, and from there he changes her entire life. Tess is now carrying a history of sin, despite the fact that she was forced into it as society seems more unforgiving during the past, and through this, it has given her a difficult life; naturally sabotaging all of her wonderful opportunities in her future.

Everyone around Tess is aware of her radiating and infectious beauty, which sparks up feelings of lust, jealousy, love, and anger. It is through this beauty that she is placed in difficult situations; letting other people's agendas and usage of her, shape Tess' life; she is always unconsciously in the mercy of others, slowly damaging her and moving her further and further away from what she used to be. What makes Tess such a compelling figure is that even though she becomes aware of her inherent flaw, she does not attempt to adapt her personality and values; succumbing to greed and manipulation, to survive this difficult world. She simply lives with it and tries her best to maintain that sense of purity, despite the physical and emotional suffering it causes her.

The character Tess may be an interesting figure to follow, sadly the road that Polanski creates for her, is not as engaging as I hoped it would be. My negative feelings are found during the last hour and 20 minutes of the film, where things are definitely sliding down hill for the character, but a lack of compelling drama, made it a chore to sit through. The pacing I felt during its final hour is too slow, indulging itself in scenes that do not require a lengthy period of time to convey. The film's conclusion also lacked the resonating punch that I was hoping from a film like this, its final scene and the events that led up to it did not move me whatsoever; it's a shame since this film started off so strongly.

The film's strongest asset is its cinematography, crediting both Geoffrey Unsworth and Ghislain Cloquet. Unsworth was the film's initial director of photography but he unfortunately died during the third week of shooting; he was then replaced by Cloquet soon after. Unsworth is a figure that I respect highly due to his amazing contribution to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Tess would have been, I believe, Unsworth's best film; achieving such glowing beauty that many period films barely reach. I cannot speak the same for Cloquet because I have yet to see any of the films that he has worked on, but what he has delivered here; which contributes for the second half of the film, is just as moving and as gorgeous as Unsworth's contributions. Pair both of their photography with wonderful costume and set design then what you get is perfect imagery. I watched this film in a DVD from my local library and the quality is far from the superior efforts from the Criterion Collection; how much more would I adore this film if I saw this through Criterion's remastered print, or in the theatres.

The film's musical score by Philippe Sarde was not as wonderful as I expected it to be. There were a couple of instances where it matches strongly, hand in hand, with the film's photography. Sarde's score simply tried too much to be dramatic during a couple of spots, letting the film feel overbearing and at times cringe-worthy; though its flaws were thankfully not abundant enough to beat this film down as dull or overly tiresome.

The performance in this film was powerful, with a compelling performance by Nastassja Kinski; one of the most beautiful women to be graced in cinema. Her physical appearance perfectly captures that sense of beauty and innocence that shape its character; Kinski plays the role as subtle, forcing to only be melodramatic when the scene demands it. Leigh Lawson as Alec d'Urberville was great; coming off as sharp and intimidating. It was during the scenes between Lawson and Kinski that the film truly pops; a constant battle between the two individuals, holding tension throughout the scene. Both actors elevate one another's performance, ultimately benefiting the film as a whole.

Tess is a gorgeously shot film that features a compelling protagonist worthy of attention. It is just too bad that the screenplay falls short during the majority of its second half, displaying overlong scenes that provide little emotional effect.
November 9, 2014
***Due to the recent RT changes that have basically ruined my past reviews, I mostly only giving a rating rather than a full review.***
½ July 16, 2014
Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented--Trance Inducing Tale With Exquisite Time And Place... A hypnotic feast!!
Super Reviewer
June 11, 2014
This could easily have become a repetitive series of depressing events (which it almost does), but Polanski finds interesting themes among the misery and visual beauty in almost every scene (I think this film is tied with "Days of Heaven" for best use of the Golden Hour). Nastassja Kinski's performance has just the right blend of naivety and mystery for this role.
½ May 19, 2014
It was boring. It started off ok but it really bored me after a while.
Super Reviewer
April 29, 2014
A not quite traditional take on Thomas Hardy's book, Polanski nonetheless breathes some fresh air on the material and makes it very intriguing.
April 7, 2014
Roman Polanski's gripping movie about the great Victorian novel 'Tess of d'Urbevilles is perhaps the best film on the classic novel.
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