TV Show Review – The Crimson Petal and the White
Rating: 3 (out of 5). A 2011 UK production based on Michel Faber’s 2002 novel, “The Crimson Petal and the White” is the story of Sugar, a clever prostitute in Victorian London, and William Rackham, the wealthy and egotistical oaf who wants, and gets, her. While most of the critics praise its lush atmosphere, they are mixed on the end result.
Variety calls it “a miniseries filled with graphic sex, nudity and Victorian-era class distinctions … [that] is sumptuously filmed and intriguingly offbeat, yet ultimately fails to deliver a payoff worthy of its come-on.”
The New York Times says that “there’s too much plot and too many ideas [in the show] …the story becomes hard to follow and the emotional crescendos don’t have the impact they should.” The paper goes on to say that “The show does a creditable job of cataloging the novel’s themes, but it has more trouble capturing the story’s Victorian-style sweep and texture. Ms. Garai and Mr. O’Dowd [The lead actors] are capable, though they can’t really bring alive characters who, in being squeezed from novel to screenplay, have taken on the feeling of literary constructs.”
The San Francisco Chronicle, on the other hand, likes the show calling it “compelling” and noting that “What truly makes the miniseries, though, are the performances in general and that of Garai in particular.
The Huffington Post says that the show “shines through with beautiful performances and high level drama.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer says that “There is much to recommend in The Crimson Petal despite its long stretches of tedium. Make sure you catch the riveting opening and see how long you stick.”
The Wall Street Journal notes that “It’s hard to find anyone to cheer on here.”
The Denver Post calls the show “a particular vision of the grimy underbelly of Victorian London, where Oliver Twist merges with adult cable TV visions of hookers, waifs and repressed upper-crust society…” but goes on to say that “The film, incidentally a study in class conflict, gender inequality and great wardrobes, is a beautiful work by a stunning cast.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says that “The casting of “Crimson Petal” is flawless” and that the show “captured the feverish tone and most fascinating storylines of [the] book…”