Winterbottom, who already adapted Thomas Hardy's "Jude the Obscure," takes on Hardy's "The Mayor of Casterbridge," transporting the story to California during the gold rush. Miner Dillon (Mullan) sells his wife Elena (Kinski) and baby daughter for gold and uses the money to establish his own town. But his sins come back to haunt him when his dying wife and grown daughter Hope (Polley) arrive, as does railway surveyor Dalglish (Bentley). Now Dillon's very future is threatened. There's more than the winter weather that's chilly about the film, which never reaches the tragic dimensions it should.