Whiffle, whiffle, whiffle. There's a dead old man in the bed and Stevenson is balled on the floor, weeping, moisture pouring from every facial orifice. Enter Wilton, surreptitiously. Giving her father's corpse a scant glance, not even noticing her grieving sister, she rummages through the jewellery on the dressing table and purloins a ring. Caught out, she's shamed, then furious. It's a response Stevenson's Isobel Coleridge seems to provoke, an illustration of writer David Hare's central question: why do good people make everyone around them behave badly? Everyone wants to dump or defuse the alcoholic widow (Whalley-Kilmer). Long-suffering Isobel takes her on, only to discover too late she sucks up everything in her path. The film is something of an '80s morality play, with characters behaving like Lust, Greed and Ambition instead of real people, but thanks to first-time director Davies' luminous moods, accelerating menace and chiaroscuro images, it packs a considerable emotional punch - while holding the mirror implacably up to the audience.
Cast and crew