It is exactly what you would expect: high production values, warm and unobjectionable ethical values, characters who have a certain amount of adult maturity, but are not over-complex. Not an unpleasant way to spend an evening. I was emotionally caught up in it for quite a lot of the film.
I compare Jude Law to Marilyn Monroe. He seems to exist on a different plane to everyone else, and he defines the film through people's reaction to him. He's not as funny or as tragic as Marilyn, but he has that sort of separation. A lot of the scenes made a different kind of sense because of this iconic presence (IMHO).
When I tried to say this to H he said he thought it was because MM and JL were blank or absent presences that people of both sexes can write onto. There may be something in this. They don't seem to be attractive in a confrontational or challenging way like (say) Kidman or Zeta-Jones or Brad Pitt.
Jude's character, Inman, is written in this way too. He is very withdrawn and unassertive. People come on to him, not the other way round. As a role I thought it played to his strengths, and I thought he was convincing.
The other interesting aspect of the film is the quasi-sexual partnership between Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellwegger. They form a partnership of necessity, with lower-class Renee teaching upper-class Kidman how to do, well do anything really, because she hasn't got a clue to start with. I think the film gives us lattitude to interpret this relationship however we like. They certainly kiss - chastely - and say they love each other. When woken in the night they both look out the same bedroom window. But then women were allowed to be more intimate and demonstrative in those days, in a non-sexual context. I think they are certainly both supposed to be heterosexual, though the war prevented them having relationships with men. Yet when Nicole is making love to Jude, Renee is crying. Is this just because she fears losing her home?
I've just started the book (as part of my book/film project if you remember) and I will be interested to see hwo the characters and relationships are represented there.