Lawrence O'Toole
December 24, 1993 AT 05:00 AM EST

Jean Rhys’ novel-a prequel to Jane Eyre-is like a Harlequin romance with a feminist twist, exploring both the cruelty of erotic obsession and how the traumas of the past come back to haunt. But the movie adaptation, featuring Lombard and Parker as two lovers, is never quite sure what tone it wants to take, and the melange of Jamaican black magic in the 19th-century setting can seem awfully silly. Ultimately the movie, Wide Sargasso Sea, which has its share of fleshy scenes, is weird-and keeps you watching-without ever inspiring any wonder. C

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