Angling for some angst? Pining for some pathos? Look no further than A&E's 2003 production of The Mayor of Casterbridge. Adapted from the brilliant novel of Thomas "Get the man some Prozac!" Hardy, the movie stars one of Romancing the Tome's favorite actors, Ciarán Hinds (who you may know as Caesar from HBO's Rome, and who is also strangely sexy for an old guy). In his long career, Hinds has an amazing ability to play absolute scumbags that you can't help rooting (and feeling) for. This movie proves no exception. His character, Michael Henchard, begins the film by selling off his wife and daughter in a Victorian-style eBay auction — bastard! It's only the first of many unfortunate choices he makes throughout the story. As he struggles to right past wrongs, his jealousy, hubris, and "fits of gloom" lead him to alienate those who love him most.
Polly Walker (Atia of HBO's Rome) oozes lust as Henchard's scandalous fling, while Jodhi May ably brings on the waterworks as his on-again, off-again "daughter." Meanwhile, James Purefoy (Rome's Mark Antony and Reese Witherspoon's Rawdon in "Vanity Fair") plays Henchard's annoyingly perfect nemesis, Farfrae. He makes a semi-hilarious seduction attempt in a scene reminiscent of Lauren Bacall's "You just put your lips together and blow." (I'm still cracking up just thinking about it.) Nevertheless, the film's ending is a weepy one, so be prepared. -- Amy