It's the autumn of 1936 and with her parents working in Singapore young Judith Dubar (Keira Knightley, Emily Mortimer) finds herself at a boarding school in Cornwall near to where her aunt Louise (Penelope Keith) lives. It is at the boarding school that Judith meets Loveday Carey-Lewis (Poppy Gaye, Katie Ryder Richardson) whose wealthy family live in Nancherrow, an impressive house in the middle of its own estate. When tragedy strikes the Carey-Lewis take Judith in and together they deal with the loves and losses as Britain enters the war. And even once the war is over it seems that heartbreak is not over for both Judith and Loveday.
I wonder how those who read Rosamunde Pilcher's novel from which "Coming Home" is adapted feel about this TV mini-series/ TV movie? At the same time I also wonder what the fans of "Downton Abbey" feel about it. I say the second because I would imagine that those who enjoyed the goings on in "Downton Abbey" would probably also enjoy the goings on in this with it look at the lives and loves of Judith and Loveday as they live in the impressive Nancherrow and deal with the emotion of losing loved ones during the war. But I would imagine at the same time that those who have read and enjoyed Pilcher's novel might be a little disappointed by the lack of depth in this dramatization as it feels like everything is on the surface with nothing behind it.
What I mean, and without trying to give too much away, early on Judith has to deal with a lecherous older man who tries it on, later on and having grown up a little she finds herself struggling when Edward Carey-Lewis first tries to touch her as they become romantically involved, recoiling from it. The trouble is that these are two scenes, a cause and effect and sadly there is no real exploration of it. Now this is only a minor moment in this 199 minute TV mini-series but this is the same throughout with the story being told but not really brought to life with tangible depth and emotion which means it is all on the surface level.
Despite this "Coming Home" not only has enough going on to keep you entertained but the calibre of the cast certainly helps make it engrossing be it Keira Knightley as the young Judith or Paul Bettany as Edward. In truth it is the fact that there are many familiar names and faces in this that it helps to draw in those who don't tend to do period dramas which not so much lack a storyline but are really just the comings and goings of those who tend to live in a stately home and of course have servants. Although in fairness some of the drama has a bit of a twist to it which stops it from being too meandering.
What this all boils down to is that "Coming Home" has a certain charm to it, maybe it is the familiar faces, maybe its easy to follow nature or maybe it is something else. But it is a TV mini-series/ TV movie which feels like it lacks depth to be anything more than just surface level entertainment.