Jude Fawley, a 19th-century stonemason of humble beginnings aspires to a life of learning at Christminster University. His studies are waylaid by a romance with the sweet, common Arabella Donn, the daughter of a pig farmer. After they marry, the union turns sour. She leaves for Australia, and Jude finally journeys to Christminster.
Continuing his studies, Jude meets and falls in love with his cousin, Sue Bridehead (Kate Winslet). But he makes the mistake of introducing her to his mentor, Mr. Phillotson, who falls just as heavily for her. To Judeís dismay, Sue becomes the teacherís assistant and lover. After many trials and tribulations, Jude and Sue realize they belong together. But their unconventional, unmarried relationship dooms them to a chain of tragedies. -- Desson Howe