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United Kingdom 1982
Directed by
Richard Loncraine
87 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Brimstone & Treacle

Dennis Potter originally wrote this as a television play however it was deemed too dark for the small screen and so turned into a film. Sting, who not only bears an uncanny physical resemblance to the young Malcom McDowell but shares a similar demeanour, stars as an unctuous young man who ingratiates himself into the family of middle-aged couple, Mr and Mrs Bates (Denholm Elliott and Joan Plowright), who take care of their near-catatonic daughter (Susannah Hamilton) at their home.

Anyone familiar with Potter's work, in particular the BBC version of The Singing Detective will know what to expect - repugnant Anglo-Christian repression and its morbid physical correlates ironically played out against a backdrop of pop tunes - and they will not be disappointed. The trouble with this is that dramatically or narratively it is a one note affair and though Loncraine gets the English middle class drabness right he does not manage more than momentarily to invest proceedings with the directorial panache that is necessary to leaven Potter's bitter humour.




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