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DANCE WITH A STRANGER

UK, 1984 (MIFF 1985)

Director: Mike Newell

This is the tragic true story of the last months in the life of the infamous Ruth Ellis. Divorcee, one-time prostitute and now the manager of a seedy London nightclub, she enters a relationship with one of the club's customers - David Blakeley, an immature upper class drop-out. Her infatuation and his irresponsibility make their relationship a very bumpy affair.

Eventually, after an ugly scene at the club, Ellis loses her job and is forced to vacate the rooms she has occupied above her workplace. She moves in with the kindly and affectionate Desmond Cussen, who has obviously been long in love with her but has hitherto been satisfied with Ruth's acceptance of his offers of help and friendship. Their relationship now becomes sexual. But when he discovers that her relationship with Blakeley is ongoing, he moves her from his own residence to a smaller apartment Otherwise their friendship remains much as it had been before they became lovers.

Meanwhile, Ruth has discovered that she is pregnant and is emotionally distraught at Blakeley's seeming indifference towards her. She suffers a miscarriage and when Blakeley stands her up, tracks him down to a country pub. She is only beaten up for her troubles. . .

The script is handled in the matter-of-fact, slice-of-life manner one might expect from writer Shelagh Delaney, but it is also charged with social and psychological nuances. Performances, musical score, and the meticulous recreation of London in the '50s, are all exceptional.

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