Miranda Richardson seems to show off her considerably wide range of acting talents with every screen effort she makes. In Dance with a Stranger, a small little British independent from the 1980s, she plays the radiant but tough nightclub owner Ruth Ellis.
Ellis is well known for being the last woman to be hanged in Britain, however, this very watchable retelling of her story concentrates more on what led her to the gallows than the execution itself. Indeed, there is no glimpse of a noose or leaver throughout the whole film, not even in the sensitively handled closing scene.
The relationship between the aristocratic racing car driver (Rupert Everett) and Ellis is both touching and brutal, with both leads displaying their excellence in portraying floored but likeable characters. It’s not a masterpiece, but this is still classy and at times effectively gritty.
Dance with a Stranger (1985), directed by Mike Newell, is released on DVD in the UK by Channel 4 DVD, Certificate 15.