Jon Amiel directs Richard Gere, Jodie Foster and Bill Pullman in this post-Civil War romancer, a remake of a French hit, about a returning soldier who may not be the man he says he is.
This was snootily looked down on at the time of release as a middling star vehicle. Now it feels like a mature, engaging rarity. A convincing adult period romance, expansive yet sensitive, seductive yet gritty. Sure, the trial ending overreaches and tries to become The Crucible… but a slither of daft, avoidable tragedy aside, the committed leads sparkle nicely off each other in sexy candlelight and comfy linens. The mystery of whether Gere is or isn’t the real Sommersby is so swiftly resolved, that the real hook seems to be how much Jodie Foster’s widow is playing along. Her slightly wavering poker face is an absolute treat, a lighter role for her but the kind a female star would kill for these days. Plus, for the curious, you get a fully immersive education in Reconstruction era tobacco farming.