Twisty period drama has dark tone, mature sexual themes.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, although this is a period piece set in Victorian England, it's based on a 2002 novel, the title of which is a double entendre for a person skilled in pickpocketing...and masturbation. As a result, it includes modern sexual themes (including a sexual relationship between two women) that you might not expect, with simulated sex acts between characters onscreen, albeit with no nudity -- just the occasional bare back. Language is a bit salty, too, with audible terms like "bitch," "ass," and "f--kstaff," and there's also occasional violence (including hangings and stabbings) with some blood. Alcohol consumption is limited to social drinking.
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What's the Story?
Based on Sarah Waters' titillating 2002 novel of the same name, FINGERSMITH follows the lives of two women -- streetwise pickpocket Sue Trinder (Sally Hawkins) and sheltered heiress Maud Lilly (Elaine Cassidy) -- whose destinies become intertwined when the handsome Gentleman aka Richard Rivers (Rupert Evans) involves them both in a complicated inheritance scam. Little does Gentleman know that the women are secretly involved with each other.
Is It Any Good?
For ardent fans of BBC costume dramas, Fingersmith looks like an obvious pick. But if you aren't familiar with the miniseries' source material, you might be in for a surprise when it comes to the plot. After all, lesbian love affairs aren't typically the stuff such miniseries are made of.
Aside from the same-sex romance, however, there's a whole lot more to the story, and it's told effectively with clever plot twists and switches of perspective that deliver a sufficiently juicy tale of greed, deception, and mistaken identity. Jane Austen it's definitely not, but for the right age group, it's a bloody good time.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about sexual content as it relates to the story. Does the sexual storyline between the two women seem illustrative or excessive? Does the nature of their relationship surprise you for the time period? Is the story ultimately about love, sex, or both?
In terms of men, women, and power, who appears to be calling the shots? How does the level of power and freedom women of the Victorian era had compare to that of modern women? Which time period would you rather live in?
How does the tone of this series relate to other costume dramas you've seen that were set in the same time period? Is the overall feel decidedly darker? How do the art direction, writing, and cinematography help communicate the series' mood?
- On DVD or streaming: September 13, 2005
- Cast: Elaine Cassidy, Sally Hawkins
- Director: Aisling Walsh
- Studio: Acorn Media
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, History
- Run time: 180 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 25, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Absorbing costume series is perfect watch-together fare.
Pride & Prejudice
Gorgeous Jane Austen adaptation has timeless appeal.
Wonderful British whodunit has some sex, language.
For kids who love drama
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