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Ruth Ellis lives with her ten-year old son Andy next to a night club. One night she meets David Blakely, and they start a love affair. However, for David with his upper-class background, it is impossible to uphold the relationship. He breaks up with her, something which makes Ellis, obsessed by him, very upset.Written by
Miranda Richardson is her usual brilliant self in "Dance with a Stranger," a 1985 film telling the true story of Ruth Ellis and David Blakeley. Blakeley was a rich young race car driver who becomes involved in a obsessive, passionate, and often violent relationship with night club hostess Ellis. It leads to tragedy.
The scandal took place in the '50s, and the atmosphere of the time is captured beautifully here, and the film is well directed by Mike Newell. The acting is beyond flawless, with perfect performances by Ian Holm as the passive man who supported Ruth, Desmond Cussen, Rupert Everett as the self-centered Blakeley, and Richardson, one of the truly great actresses of our time, as Ruth. I'm not certain why Richardson's name isn't uttered along with that of Helen Mirren's or Meryl Streep's. She's a true chameleon. No one can ever equal her supporting performance in "Damage" - I don't really care that someone else won the Oscar! Here she gives a fully fleshed-out portrait of the unapologetic, tough, sexy Ellis.
The script has some disappointments - one of which is, we don't get to the real story until the last minutes of the film - it's not really told, in fact - so obviously, that wasn't considered the real story by screenwriter Shelagh Delaney. The problem is that Ellis' situation was very controversial, and if you know it, you sit through the movie waiting for that part to begin. If you don't, well, then I guess you won't miss it.
The purpose of "Dance with a Stranger" is to show what led up to the tragedy, which includes the class-consciousness of British society. In doing so, it leaves out the possible involvement of the Ian Holm character, Cussen, in what actually happened. Still, thanks to the strong acting, the story is fascinating, and these real characters come to life.
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