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Susan "Sue" Trinder is a fingersmith (British slang for thief) who lives in the slums of London with a baby farmer (person who looks after unwanted babies) Mrs.Sucksby. When a once rich man, who gambled all his money away, presents them with a scam that has a payout of 40,000 pounds, Sue signs on to swindle rich Maud Lilly. Maud is an orphan who lives with her uncle, but what exactly is going on in the Lilly house? Sue will pose as Maud's maid so that Mr.Rivers (the gentleman) can get close to and eventually marry her. Their plan is to put Maud in the madhouse and take the money for themselves. All goes astray though when Sue falls in love with Maud. And the question is: Who can you trust? Written by
It is always difficult to bring a 450 pages book down to a three hours film. I read the book before, and I found the BBC production dealing with this difficulty in the best way possible. The qualities of the book haven't been lost: the dense and lively depiction of a fingersmith patchwork family in London in the 1860s, the cold and obscene cruelty in which Maud is brought up, the characterization of different social groups by different ways of speaking, the unexpected and surprising twists of the story, the way the film makes the spectators look different at the same scenes when they are told first from Sue's point of view then from Maud's one. The main actors do very good, and especially the growing love between the two women is convincingly developed, with a first culmination in a very tender love scene between the two and finally forgiving all the evil they were ready to do and did to each other, because they still love each other.
For each of her books the author, Sarah Waters, has thoroughly investigated what life was like in British 19th century. While in Tipping the Velvet it was the world of the vaudeville theaters and the beginning of social movements, in Affinity the dreadful reality of women penitentiaries and the fashionable evocation of spirits, in Fingersmith she depicts the public ceremony of hanging people in London and the inhuman treatment of persons supposed or declared disturbed in asylums based on the reading of sources and scientific research. This is very well transferred to the film so that the corresponding scenes show a high grade of historic truth. I highly recommend this film production because it offers three hours of colorful Victorian atmosphere, vivid emotions, and suspense.
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