I chose Sommersby because it was a period romance I’d watched years and years ago and has haunted me ever since. The romance, scenery,and plot line drew me in. Filmed in 1993 it is well worth watching and as the blurb on the back of the DVD case says: “…and the outcome makes one thing sure: you’ll remember Sommersby.”
Jack Sommersby (played by Richard Grere) has returned from the Civil War after being gone from his plantation for six years. Before he left, he was a gambler, drinker and abuser to his wife, Laurel (Jodie Foster). Upon his return he is caring and concerned for his neighbors, hard-working and, most of all, a loving husband and father. As the movie progresses, the question of whether he is truly Jack Sommersby arises by a jealous man who wanted to marry Laurel before Jack returned. Jack is also vilified because he is supportive of blacks owning what they pay for and is visited by sheet-wearing, torch-bearing, cross-burning men who have beat one of Jack’s black friends.
Laurel has begun to believe her husband is not who he says he is. When he is accused of murder, to keep him from being hung, Laurel tries to convince people he is not Jack Sommersby. In order to keep everything he worked for his family and neighbors, Jack must convince the judge and jury he is truly who he says he is – even though it means a noose around his neck. During the trial Jack takes over as his own lawyer and questions Laurel about why she believes he is someone else. She finally yells, “Because I never loved him the way I love you!” (My tears start about this time.)
When I watched this movie the first time, the ending came as a complete shock to me. This time, even though I knew what was going to happen, I still couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. The powerful emotions of these two characters would make even the most hardened person weep.
I would want to watch this one again and simply pay more attention to the rich scenery, costumes and props, but I’m afraid I’d be drawn into the plot and characters and would need to watch it again – which may not be a bad thing.