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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
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The roses Kitty gives out in her act are obviously artificial. But later when Nan shows Kitty she kept the rose she received from her, the rose is wilted. See more »
Tipping the Velvet has just three weeks ago been released in the UK and already I watch as countless letters flood to the national papers and TV guides, claiming that it possesses a thin plot, weak performances and an even weaker script.
You find me incensed. This is heresy.
I would really like to dispel all doubt by first congratulating Andrew Davies on enabling Geoffrey Sax to create this wonderful dramatization of Sarah Waters' novel by cushioning him with such a fantastic script. Kudos. But I fear I must now change tack.
I saw one of the premiere TV guides here in the UK (which shall remain nameless) relentlessly describing Tipping the Velvet as a "lesbian love story". If they are, and I assume they are, trying to promote interest in the film, then this is completely the wrong way to go about it (aside from the phrase being a disappointingly inaccurate description). By saying such a thing, they are either a) turning away those who would instinctively be repelled by "that" subject matter or b) attracting a class of people who will only watch to see some "serious girl-on-girl action". Buy a video! Through this display of serious inconsideration, this and other magazines are cheapening what is a brilliant adaptation of one of recent literature's greatest works. Tipping the Velvet is a story of love, of passion, of moving on, of loss, and of heartbreak. It's not a lesbian love story. No siree.
The end result is a stylish affair, with excellent performances all round (particularly from Stirling, Hawes, Chancellor and May). Direction-wise, it's intoxicating and immersive - sometimes, fast-paced, sometimes not - but it never ceases to be anything less than compelling. As a whole, it's polished and well delivered, the sex is undertaken with tenderness and delicacy - and although many will not class it as a real "film", it will remain among my favourites for some time to come.
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