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Review by Will O’Bryan
Rating: (4 out of 5)
Saturday, 10/25/2008, 6:00 PM
Feature presentation, $10 at Shakespeare Theatre’s Harman Center for the Arts
THINK OF YOUR MOST tumultuous lesbian-couple pals — women whose emotions are intense to the point of painful, gals who are less karaoke at Freddie’s, and more love poems by candlelight with Tracy Chapman — on vinyl — spinning in the background. That’s the direction Affinity heads.
When you see the name Sarah Waters, you generally know you’re in for a treat. Her novels are deliciously detailed and translate well to screen. That’s the case with Waters’ Affinity, too. If you enjoyed the quality of Tipping the Velvet, for example, also set in late 19th century Britain, you’ll not be disappointed here.
These are, however, much different stories. While Tipping and Fingersmith had an unfolding, epic quality, Affinity is fueled far more by a gothic sensibility with spirits, seances and the backdrop of a macabre women’s prison. All that’s missing is a Kate Bush cameo. Instead, we get Amanda Plummer as Miss Ridley, a prison matron. Plummer is a perfect spice to add, bringing a Linda Hunt-esque flavor of morbidity to an already unsettling story.
Surprisingly, at 120 minutes, Affinity doesn’t feel as though it runs on the longer side. Actually, it’s so engaging that it seems to end too abruptly. The tragedy could have been played out a little longer at climax. As is, the drama is not whipped up quite enough onscreen for the fateful conclusion to seem the most likely resolution.
Still, if you’re looking for two hours of well-crafted, period-piece escapism — complete with Halloween-season spooks — Affinity fills the bill wonderfully.