There seems to be a
whole sub-genre of lesbian historical fiction set in repressed Victorian
England. Affinity is the second of Sarah Water's novels to be
adapted to screen, the first being the sensual BBC mini-series
Tipping the Velvet. Unfortunately Affinity is a failure, a
low-budget and shoddily produced mess that fails to do justice to the
gripping underlying story.
Margaret Prior (Anna
Madeley), recovering from her father's death and still living with her
overbearing mother, becomes a regular visitor to Millbank Prison and
befriends Selina Dawes (Zoe Tapper) a prisoner who has a special
connection with the spirit world. She has been imprisoned for harming a
young girl during a sťance. As a "medium" she is appealing to Margaret,
who sees her as an escape from her repressed self. Gradually the
connection between them grows into something more obsessive, and
possibly more romantic.
that despite the hefty screen time devoted to the growing connection
between the two women, they remain thinly drawn and one dimensional. The
romance is hence unconvincing and merely facilitates the inept plot that
only becomes engaging towards the latter stages. This is accompanied
throughout by a miserable visual palette and tiresome and pointless
shaky camera. You can stop the camera shaking, Tim (Fywell, the
director), itís called a tripod.
The performances by
the two leads, at least, are compelling, but itís small compensation.
One wonders what a more accomplished production, with a better script,
could have achieved from such strong source material.
This single-disc DVD
release is of unremarkable visual quality and contains a good selection
of extras including a making-of documentary, deleted scenes and
interviews with the principles.