Set in the Dorset village of Mellstock during the 1840s, Under the Greenwood Tree focuses on a new arrival to the village, Miss Fancy Day. Miss Day, an educated beauty who has travelled to the village to take care of her ailing father and to be the new schoolmistress, is met with a lot of curiosity. She becomes the talk of the square, and three suitors step forward to ask for her hand in marriage.
There is the wealthy landowner who promises silk dresses and live in maid service, the intelligent and educated Vicar who promises her the world, literally, a life in Venice and Rome, and the very handsome but poor working man, whose station is far below hers. Guess which one she chooses in the end? Guess which one her father approves?
This is a nice, fluffy period piece with funny moments and romance. It certainly isn’t anywhere near classics, such as Pride and Prejudice, but it isn’t really meant to be. (Although the scene of the Dick Dewy fishing for clams, shirtless, is reminiscent a bit of Mr. Darcy classic on screen swim.) A bit predictable and contrived at times, it is nonetheless lighthearted and a quick escape. Fans of Little House in the Prairie television series may appreciate the depiction of living a simple life in the town, without all of the nasty droughts, famines, blizzards, deadly outbreaks and other disasters.
Interestingly enough, the movie is based on a Thomas Hardy novel, one that is a definite departure from his usual somber stuff. The fluff and predictability comes inherent in the novel.The cast does a good job at keeping the characters likable if not full of substance, as shallow as some of them might be. The period costumes are fun, although the hair is all wrong for the time.
This is a good one to watch when you just want a bit of romance without all of the angst. It is available on Netflix.