"Densely packed with social and psychological nuances" (Variety), Dance With A Stranger is based on the true story of the last woman hanged in England. Starring Miranda Richardson in her "spectacular movie debut" (Vogue), ... more »along with Rupert Everett and Ian Holm, Dance With A Stranger is the "stunning, powerful [and] fascinating"(Vogue) winner of the 1985 Cannes Best Picture Award. Ruth Ellis (Richardson) is a private dancer with a tough exterior. But her armor begins to crack when she meets wealthy racecar driver David Blakely (Everett). And despite warnings against the affair by her friend and would-be lover Desmond Cussen (Ian Holm), Ellis is quickly seduced by Blakely's charms. But when his passions turn cold, she is caught in a dark dance of obsession that gives way to desperation and finally culminates in a deadly confrontation that shatters the stillness one fateful night with a shocking act'that may ultimately destroy them both.« less
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 07/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ruth Ellis (Miranda Richardson) was a night club hostess in one of London's private clubs. It was a Spring evening in 1954 when David Blakely (Rupert Everett) walked in with some friends. Little more than a year later, Ruth Ellis was hanged for the murder of Blakely. The movie tells the compelling, tawdry, almost inevitable story of what happened.
Ellis was divorced and living with her young son above the club she helped manage. She bleached her hair, knew how to keep men laughing and buying, and was definitely not part of the upper class system. Blakely was a race car driver, wealthy, young, selfish, had the right friends, and had never had to face any real responsibility in his life. With some mixture of lust and need, the two of them instantly became entangled in each others' lives. "Where do you live?" he asks her. "Over the shop," she says. "Can I take you home tonight?" "Yes." Their affair follows a pattern. First lust, then tears, abuse, his forgetting her for a while, her desperation, and lust again. She has one friend, Desmond Cussen (Ian Holm). Cussen loves her but is the type of man who can't quite get up the nerve to kiss her, much less invite her to bed. He trails after her and tries to pick up the pieces. Cussen knows the kind of man Blakely is. "Why can't you leave him alone," he once shouts at Ellis. "He's so involved with himself he can't think of anything else." The results are predictable. Ellis slides further into misery and fixation the more Blakely takes her for granted and forgets about her at times. One night she takes a pistol, follows him to a pub, and when he leaves she carefully puts two bullets in his chest.
The trial was a great event in Britain. It had everything: sex, the class system, a tawdry affair. The legal system couldn't deal with her fast enough. The trial started June 20, 1955. She was hanged July 13. Ruth Ellis was the last woman hanged by the British.
The movie is excellent and the performances are extraordinary. Rupert Everett was 26 when he made the film. He's perfect as the product of a privileged system, so selfish as to be cowardly, so self involved that he misses entirely what he is doing to Ellis, or even care if he did realize. Miranda Richardson at 27 carries the movie. Her performance made her a star. I can't describe what she does except that every word she says and every step she takes just rings true. She is utterly mesmerizing.
This is, in my view, one of the movies that can probably be called great. You'll be thinking about it for some time. The DVD picture looks fine. The only extra is an alternate ending, which is disposable."
A Cinematic Masterpiece You must See
Milo | Eastern Canada | 07/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If there is one problem with Dance With a Stranger it has to be that inevitably one becomes so mesmerized with the performance of Miranda Richardson there is a danger of missing the other performances. The nuances of her character's brittle emotions are perfectly pitched with the arch of penciled eyebrows, the tightening of blood-red lips, and the lisp of her tense voice. A total victim of her own weakness she is drawn into an emotionally and physically abusive relationship, but is powerless to escape. Even under the wing of a man who truly loves her, she throws his devotion aside in a reckless and indeed masochistic spiral. In Richardson's potrayal Ruth Ellis seems almost to crave the violence and mercurial passion, watch her eyes and face as Blakely hits her. The movie drips ambience, wonderfully creating the London nightclub scene in the early 50's. Costumes and makeup are impeccable. Superlative performances from Ian Holm and Rupert Everett, and indeed all members of the cast. Mike Newell has taken a wonderful slice of an evocative era and portrayed a tragedy that we must hope, could never have reached such an awful conclusion today. Breathtaking."
Oscar Worthy Performance By Miranda Richardson
S. Hebbron | 10/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is as good a cinimatic achievement of a factual homocide as I've seen since In Cold Blood, the infamous Truman Capote nonfiction novel. Miranda Richardson is rivoting, her performance superlative, as she plunges deep into the depths of depair and self pity. Her portrayal of the attention starved and insecure Ruth Ellis is deeply inspired. How? I ask myself with each repeated viewing of this movie, could such a finely crafted flim be overlooked , almost ignored.
Noteworthy as well is the steeley performance delivered by Rupert Everett, as David Blakley. He is Ellis's part-time lover and object of obsession. In addition the brilliant direction of Mike Newell creates perfection in a Hitchcockian way. He creates the tention and edgeiness, the underlying danger and the oh so real atmosphere. This sense of detail is flawless. I found myself utterly sucked into the dark seedy, lustful world of a dejected and scorned woman. Admittly, Dance With A Stranger is not for everyone. Watching someone drowning in a sea of obsessive desire, and ultimatly rendered helpless by it's grasp, is not exactly light-fare.
No, Ruth's world at the hostess club is nothing like The Kit-Kat Club of Caberet fame. She's no Sally Bowles and there are few, if any, light moments to relieve the tention. I'll defey anyone to sit through Dance With A Stranger and not feel unmittigating despair and pity for Ruth Ellis. Miranda Richardson turns in a performace of unparralled depth and integrity. Miranda Richardson was truely Oscar-Worthy.... Too bad she and the film have been largely forgotten."
A sensitive treatment of a sad sad story.
S. Hebbron | Leicester UK | 03/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film was Richardson's first outing as a movie actress and she is outstanding, Everett is also good as the callous playboy, though he has never quite managed to build on his first performance in the way Richardson did. Holme is aslo excellent as the doting "Father" figure. This is the sad telling of the true story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in England, in the mid 1950's. Ellis was essentially a loving and caring woman with a chequered past and little options for making a living, a woman who would have been highly frowned upon in such conservative times. She met and fell in love with, a rich boy rogue, David Blakely and the film chronicles their destructive and doomed relationship. Not an easy story, Richardson is amazing as the increasingly unhinged Ruth and Everett is the perfect "Bastard". A worthy watch and an excellent introduction to the talents of Richardson (in my opinoin, she is one of the finest contemparary actresses and could only be rivalled by the likes of Meryl Streep and Susan Sarandon). This film is a very sad tale and to this day the British Judicial system debates whether or not Ellis should have been executed, the majority thinking amongst the British public both then and now is that it was a gross miscarraige of justice. I have to also say that I cannot understand negative reviews of this film, I can only conclude that such people find the content hard to tolerate which is vaguely understandable, or they just don't have the intellilect to work through the story."
DEATH AT THE TOP.
S. Hebbron | 02/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A WORTHY sister to Susan Hayward's "I Want to Live" both based on fact, this scorching look at 'fatal attraction' across the Class line will stay with you for a long long time. Depressing? Of course! MIRANDA RICHARDSON as the much abused real life Ruth Ellis glistens in the sultry expose of 'Life Reaching for the Top' - you just cannot take your eyes off this woman as she battles through this hellish liason with the upper-class David [another brilliant turn by Rupert Everett].One almost applauds when she is driven to the inevitable conclusion of the affair, but it gets even worse ..... Yes, it's a shocking ride though this mangled life.This IS the versatile and highly gifted Ms. Richardson's movie.Other viewings? "Tom and Viv", "Enchanted April", "Damage"."