This sweet and sunny film was adapted from an early Thomas Hardy novel (surprise, surprise)! Beautiful, educated, and sweet-tempered Fancy Day (Keeley Hawes) comes from Exeter to take the job of schoolteacher in the village of Mellstock to be near her sick father, a retired gamekeeper. Dick Dewy (James Murray), his father, and a few of their friends are amateur musicians, so they sing carols on Christmas Eve. He falls in love w/ Fancy at first sight when she comes to the window to praise their song. (Murray bears a striking resemblance to Stephen Campbell Moore, another young British actor.)
Dick is tongue-tied when he sees Fancy after church, but manages to invite her to a party.
But the humble carrier (moving man) is not Fancy’s only admirer. She catches the eye of successful, middle-aged farmer, Mr. Shiner, and the village’s new pastor, Parson Maybold (Ben Miles).
One man offers her security; another offers adventure. But Fancy has great chemistry w/ Dick, who strives to win her affection, unaware that her father feels he’s beneath her.
This story covers Hardy’s main themes- rural/small town life, working vs. middle class customs, courtship between those of different status, and the individual’s search for a place in the world.