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Tipping the Velvet (2002)

Cast: Rachael Stirling, Rachael Stirling, Keeley Hawes, more...
Director: Geoffrey Sax, Geoffrey Sax
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Acorn Media
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Television, Costume Drama/Period Piece, British TV, TV Drama, British Drama, Drama TV, UK, Miniseries
Running Time: 178 min.
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

Originally produced in the U.K. for BBC1, where it first aired on October 9, 2002, the three-part miniseries Tipping the Velvet was adapted from Sarah Waters' best-selling debut novel of the same name. Set in the 1890s, the series focuses on the romance between Nan Astley (played by Rachel Stirling, daughter of actress Diana Rigg), a cook in the seaside restaurant owned by her father, and Kitty Butler (Keeley Hawes), a musical hall entertainer specializing in male impersonation. Given the strict (and somewhat hypocritical) moral restrictions of the Victorian era, the lesbian relationship between Nancy and Kitty must be kept a closely guarded secret, except in the hedonistic underground circles in which the actress and her libertine friends travel. Tipping the Velvet was brought to the US by way of the BBC America digital-cable service beginning May 23, 2003. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Special Features:

  • Interview with Author Sarah Waters and Screenwriter Andrew Davies
  • Photo Galleries
  • Cast Filmographies

GreenCine Member Reviews

more extensive than you expect by WDiComo February 3, 2005 - 1:54 AM PST
4 out of 5 members found this review helpful
If someone decided to make MOLL FLANDERS as a cross-dressing, music hall performing, secret lesbian, the finished product could resemble this movie, but with a happier ending. The synopsis is a bit misleading; it's accurate as far as it goes but refers solely to episode one. The disc contains 2 episodes beyond that. Thus Nan, our heroine, has many more adventures than implied. There's love, betrayal, sudden poverty, offbeat prostitution, slavery of a sort, and lots of bawdiness, though in the tasteful way of the BBC. As is typical of the portrayal of centuries-old city life, there's a sop to the viewer in the unrealistically scrubbed look of London streets. The feel of 1890's burlesque is charming. I agree with lividsnails' review that the characters are not fully fleshed out, so the viewer can be perplexed by the heroine's choices at times, and I can see that the viewer with a lesbian agenda would not find this movie fully satisfying. Still, as a high-toned production it keeps your interest for 178 minutes, and you'll need to stick around, for it takes almost that long to find out what TIPPING THE VELVET means.

disappointing and historically inaccurate but a good fantasy by lividsnails January 23, 2005 - 2:57 PM PST
2 out of 6 members found this review helpful
If people were defined as nothing more than their sexualities, this movie would be fine. But, thankfully, we are more than gay or straight, male or female, young or old. Human identity is layered and complex. This movie, sadly, is not. (The book was just a little better on this score.) The characters are flat and have precious few defining characteristics other than their sexuality. For many gays and lesbians I know who want to be seen as more than just their sexuality, this could be majorly disappointing. This is the stereotype we've been fighting all our lives. In the movie, the characters' lives revolve around sex and their identity as lesbians.

If you're just looking for a cheap thrill with early 21st c. politically correct, progressive notions super-imposed on late 19th c. characters, this movie might be fine. and the less you know about 19th c. social customs, the better. Relationships between women in that society at that time were very different than they are for us. It was much more acceptable to have a comfort buddy of the same sex. One characters protestation that she "hates the way [the other girl] makes her feel" sounds more 21st century than 19th. There are entire books written about the history of lesbian identity, which neither Sarah Waters, the author of the book nor the screenwriter of this movie seem to have read.

Historical accuracy aside, if you're looking for a nice lesbian sexual fantasy, this film might be fine and it's kind of a cute, if predictable story too. Overall, don't expect much from this movie and you won't be disappointed.

read me blog here: Lucky White Girl being the sometimes humorous, sometimes moving, often pitiful but almost always interesting documentation of the incredibly varied and unpredictable journeys of an undeserved member of the privileged class (which doesn't come without its due course of guilt and shameless navel-gazing).

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.49)
76 Votes
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