Crimson Petal and the White on Encore
Posted at 6:50 AM (PDT) on Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Brits are back on Encore
By Greg Evans
Bloomberg News
September 5, 2012

Jack the Ripper would appear 14 years later, but the back alleys and gaslit brothels of The Crimson Petal and the White (Sept. 10 and 11 on Encore at 8 p.m.) couldn't look more foreboding if the Victorian killer was crouching in the shadows.

Handsomely filmed in russets and velvet reds, Crimson Petal, a two-part British miniseries making its U.S. debut, gives the working girls of ye olde London their due, and a memorable voice. Adapted by British playwright Lucinda Coxon from Michael Faber's 2002 best-seller, Crimson is the story of Sugar (Romola Garai), a prostitute in 1874 who dreams of escaping the brothel and, in writings that would get a smile from Pirate Jenny, exacting bloody revenge.

Faber's tale spins on modern notions of sexism and exploitation in a world just past Dickens, and if Coxon's four-hour adaptation sometimes drags, Crimson nonetheless draws us in as the power play between man and mistress shifts back, forth and back again.

…Gillian Anderson, topping her own performance as Miss Havisham in the BBC's 2011 Great Expectations, is deliciously creepy as the cold-hearted, face-powdered brothel madam who raised Sugar.