While waiting for this film to be released in the U.S., I took the time to read the short story written by Jim Shepard and the bases for the film. Fortunately, this helped to lessen the blow at the end of the film. The ending is so typical of stories about female love relationships. Therefore, the ending is not an outcome that would be unexpected.
I do believe the screen writers and director missed an opportunity to address in some depth either the love story or the hardships of living during this period for both women and men. Instead, they chose to try to accomplish both themes which diluted any real focus and purpose of the film. Personally, I believe the story was intended to be more about Abigail and Tally and with that in mind so much more about their relationship could have been developed. As it is, you only get a glimpse into their love connection as well as the hardships of living in the mid-1800s.
The character Tally is very undeveloped. You really do not get a sense of who this woman is and/or what has brought her to this point in the story. We know more about Abigail and to some degree her mental state. However, we really are not given a sense of why these two women are attracted to each other and so welling to take the risk of being caught by Dyer or Finney. Where did they think this relationship could go? In some ways, the ending of the film was perhaps their only future.
This film will attract a large percentage of the lesbian community. I know I was looking forward to this film as mainstream female love stories are not all that numerous. Unfortunately, the film will be a heart-breaking love story with a typical ending. But with that said, I in many ways loved the film. The acting alone made it worth watching. I just wished the film had taken more time to show the love affair between the two women in more depth. For example, we get only a quick glimpse of their passionate love connection the women had. During these scenes with limited dialog, we could have gotten a better sense of what they were feeling and thinking. Instead, with so little or no dialog between the two, you might get the idea it was the sex they were more interested in. In most lesbian relationships, the depth of feeling goes so much further than just a sexual act.
So, overall, I recommend the film. Even though, I was disappointed in the direction the film went, I felt the acting (particularly Waterson and Kirby) was great. The women had great chemistry, and this made the film even more appealing to me. It is just too bad the passionate side of their connection was not given more time in the story.
One last note, the trailer for this film indicates that the women have a love affair so anyone who is offended by this idea might think twice about watching this film and even more actually writing a bad review that makes this part of why they did not like the film.