Friday, May 30, 2008

Cranford (Simon Curtis and Steve Hudson, 2008) B-

Everything about Simon Curtis and Steve Hudson's adaptation of the popular Elizabeth Gaskell novel of the same name screams out every single stereotype of Masterpiece Theatre that we've come to expect: stiff upper lip British-ness, stuffy characters, competent, yet not passionate, camera work, costumes recycled from Pride & Prejudice and Becoming Jane. But, somehow, Cranford works. The script is warm and funny in a dour, British way and the acting is superb. Then again, what else would you expect from the likes of Dame Judi Dench, Dame Eileen Atkins, Imelda Staunton and Julia McKenzie. It was strange to see Dame Judi Dench play such a nice and genteel older spinster after her sinister spinster in Notes on a Scandal, but, as always, she adds her own flair to the part and provides another fascinating performance to her repertoire. The real stand out, however, was Imelda Staunton as the town gossip Miss Pole. She's a great comic relief and a quick jolt whenever the miniseries/film descends into Masterpiece Theatre hell (which was too often for me). Cranford is decent enough overall, but I can't imagine sitting through this without the excitement of seeing these four grand dames duking it out.

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