Rupert Everett … Lord Harry Ironminster
Hugo Weaving … Ned Devine
Arthur Dignam … Dr. Redbridge
Jennifer Claire … Lady Ironminster
Catherine McClements … Sarah Redbridge
Ralph Cotteril … Sam
Adam Cockburn … Violet Head
Tim Elliott … Lord Ironminster
Jack Allen … Shopkeeper
John Spicer … Publican
Brian Scrymgeour … Yard boss
Les Ash … First postilion
Tamas Szegedi … Second postilion
Tony Ash … Black coach driver
Bruce Stewart …
Harry Ironminster (Rupert Everett) is a privileged young men whose aristocratic existence is sent spinning into chaos by a sudden tragedy. Blacking out during one of their trap horses races he kills his father and loses his right arm.
As he struggles to pick up the pieces of a shattered life, Harry meets Ned Devine (Hugo Weaving) who is everything the young aristocrat would like to be: confident, free, fearless,.. He offers him a job but the other men declines it at first, reluctant to “be owned” as a servant by Harry’s family. Eventually he accepts the offer and the two men form a close bond.
Harry’s health condition declines more and more and leaves him bound to his bed for long periods. Unable to father a child himself with Sarah (Catherine McClements), Harry asks Ned to do it for him. Of course, what had started as a friendship driven “duty” develops into something more, at least for Ned who eventually admits his love to Sarah.
On his death bed Harry ask his friend not to let him die painfully and slowly. Ned takes him out on a last race trap, leaving him to crash at speed. Rejected by Sarah, now pregnant, he leaves with Harry’s horses and one of the town kids to start a new life.
Ned: “This way I’m my own master.”
Harry: “Oh really?”
Ned: “Well, to the extent that any working man is. I do my job and they leave me alone […] I don’t want to be owned.”
Harry: “I’ll look after you.”
Ned: “I don’t need you or your job or any other bugger (??)”
Harry: “Yes, you do…you just don’t know it yet…”
Ned (to Sarah): “I can’t be your friend. I’m a servant. I’m his servant. […] It won’t happen again because it’s wrong.”
Harry: “Perhaps I can guess…”
Harry: “Is it that you desire Sarah and is it that she desires you in return…?”
Ned: “She loves you.”
Harry: “Give me a death I can bare.”