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UK 1985
Directed by
Mike Newell
102 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Dance With A Stranger

Rarely have the horrors of erotic love been presented so damningly as in this fact-based account of the events that led Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain, to the gallows in 1955.

Ellis (Miranda Richardson) was a single mother, a peroxide blonde and a hostess in a two-bit London nightclub. David Blakely (Rupert Everett) was a wealthy public school narcissist who fancied himself as a racing car driver. Blakely was apparently attracted by Ellis’s tantalizingly wanton persona, Ellis by Blakely's upper-class suaveness, and their romance soon turned sour from their differing expectations of respectively, libidinal release (he) and emotional commitment (she). In between the pair was Desmond Cussen (Ian Holm) devoted to Ellis but helpless to stop her spiral downwards into obsession.

Although Everett is good-looking he is too vague a presence to convince as Ellis’s caddish nemesis. Despite this, Shelagh Delaney’s fine script, Newell’s well-paced direction and the careful recreation of 50s England provide enough material for us to fill in the gaps whilst Richardson commands the screen as the woman undone and Holm is note-perfect as the decent little Englishman.




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