DVD review – Fingersmith (2005), Region 4, Shock

From the novel by Sarah Waters, author of Tipping The Velvet, the BBC miniseries Fingersmith is a Victorian tale about the love and betrayals between wealthy heiress Maud Lilly and pickpocket Sue Trinder.

The first half of the series, where Sue is reluctantly enlisted to defraud Maud from her inheritance, builds to a truly startling revelation. The series then intriguingly re-tells the events up to the revelation before continuing the story. Unfortunately the concluding hour of Fingersmith does not maintain its initial mystique as it becomes a routine period soap-opera filled with long lost family member clichés and uninteresting double crossings.

Performances are overly melodramatic. In particular, Rupert Evans (Hellboy) as the villain Richard Rivers is so absurdly dastardly that he surely would have endlessly twirled his moustache had he had one. The only consistently strong performance is the stunning and hypnotic Elaine Cassidy (The Others, Disco Pigs) as Maud.

There is a vague theme that in a male dominated world women who should be united in their struggles are forced to act against each other to survive, but otherwise Fingersmith is an average costume drama spiced up by Maud and Sue’s desire for each other.

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 241, 2005

© Thomas Caldwell, 2005