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Dramatised from Sarah Waters' acclaimed debut novel, "Tipping the Velvet" tells the story of Nancy Astley (Rachael Stirling), a young girl who works as cook and waitress in her Father's seaside restaurant - that is until she witnesses the extraordinary performance of a new-to-town male impersonator - Kitty Butler (Keeley Hawes) - and begins to undergo a complete life transformation. Suddenly whipped up - and quickly flung down - by her love affair with Kitty, she experiences both euphoria and deep disillusion as she embarks on a seven-year journey of self-discovery - finally realizing that a life of sensation just isn't enough. Written by
I think Andrew Davies did an admirable job of taking a magnificent book which emulated the pace and styling of a Victorian novel and turning it into a moving and entertaining film. I'm glad I read (twice) the book first which is usually the case for me. I know that one must view a novel and a film as different media and judge them accordingly. But, still, it's often hard to read the original material after a film gives away the best parts.
I realize that Davies is a very good adapter, but I wish the producers had chosen a woman to write the screenplay. Davies, as he admits in the commentary that accompanies the film on DVD, wanted particularly to emphasis the more scatological bits in the book. I certainly enjoyed those, on film as in the book. But Davies missed a half-dozen moments that are so excruciatingly, painfully tender which he could have incorporated if his sensibility were more feminine.
I also would take issue with his use of the book's primary symbol, the rose.
As the screenplay was plotted by Davies, the denouement was inevitable and appropriate. But I really think that author Waters' final nod to the rose symbol was much more interesting. And I preferred way the novel let Nan "come of age" than the way Davies chose.
One quick comment about the four actors who essay the primary roles. They are all wonderfully talented -- well, except for the singing and dancing, perhaps -- and, moreover, their physical presences are so much what the mind's eye sees when reading the novel before seeing the film. I thought they were all terrific.
I recommend that any lesbian and anyone who loves good fiction, add BOTH the book and the DVD of TIPPING THE VELVET to their bookshelves.
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