On July 13, 1955, Ruth Ellis became the last woman to be hanged in England. With a smart, tough little script by Shelagh Delaney, Mike Newell's noir-ish film is a dissection of the human frustration and complex class issues surrounding her crime. Miranda Richardson, looking like some delicious, chilled confection, plays Ellis, the hostess to a "glorified brothel" who plans for a better life with her young son until she meets David Blakely (a young, gorgeous Rupert Everett), the wealthy ne'er-do-well whose fitful attentions chip away her armor. Their vicious attraction and its constant tug-of-war lose some dramatic pull as the story heads toward its inevitable climax, but Richardson's performance holds your attention. She plays the entire film in a kind of stunned ardor, a feisty little animal caught in the headlights of Everett's sullen magnetism. By the time she's plugging bullets into his body, she's already hit you a few time with her heated, fatal despair. --Steve Wiecking
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