The Crimson Petal and the White (2011)

A BBC adaption of Michel Faber’s bestselling novel, and a mighty good job they did. I am in love with this drama. Admittedly I haven’t read the book, as I don’t read all that often, but I think this must have been an awesome novel to create this wonderful work of drama.

Following the life of Sugar (Romola Garai) as she finds an escape from her seedy, London life as a prositute when wealthy William Rackham (Chris O’Dowd) pays her a visit, takes a fancy and moves her out into a kept life, but still far from ideal.

Sugar is plagued by the death of her friend, Elizabeth, who was beaten to death by visitors to Mrs Castaway’s (Gillian Anderson) brothel. As such Sugar is writing an emotionally driven and angry novel that depicts her fantasy revenge on the punters she must endure. All the while she makes incidentally becomes intwined in the life of William Rackham’s ‘disturbed’ wife Agnes (Amanda Hale).

There are many emotional moments of sincerity bought about by a fantastic cast and gorgeous, indulgent design that draws you in to the world, be it seedy in the depths of filth, or in the clean, upper-class, Chepstow Villas. What really stands out is the original score by Cristobal Tapia de Veer  with modern nuance and sound design that escapes the usual period genre classical score. The music lifts and swells but in a contemporary, yet completely befitting way. This only adds to the feelings and setting that are so exquisitely set out.

I have not seen a BBC drama that holds so much strength in production and performance. Superb.

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