Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
on 2 September 2015
The titles tell the story of a tragedy exacerbated by circumstance. The grim reality of a mistress/servant relationship is depicted in an atmosphere of claustrophobia and social repression as the audience is taken on a slow trip to Hell.
Two sisters, brought up in a nunnery when their mother decided she did not want to be troubled with their upbringing, are split up when the older one leaves, leaving the younger one, Lea, alone. Later on, the older sister has found work in service in a household of Madam Danzard and her daughter,Isabelle. She takes Lea out of the convent and finds her a job too as maids. Madam Danzard is an exacting employer, running her fingers over the furniture to ensure it is dust free. The sisters/maids do everything in the household, cooking,cleaning,dressmaking. They live together in a room at the top of the stairs in a world set apart. This separation eventually leads to what was probably an incestuous passion.
When the cracks in the service begin to get more obvious, Madame Danzard and her frumpy daughter change the relationship which becomes mutually cold. The sisters want to protect one another as their own relationshp has become more than familial love leading to a terrific,but inevitable climax.
The playing is superb, especially Julie Walters who reins in her histrionics,and the camerawork composed of tracking shots from above using the stairs and bannisters to underline the repressive atmosphere of the huge house. It is as if the house becomes a prison for them all. The two sets of women eventually split, their only connection being the actual service the sisters provide. They have decided to live their own lives beginning with refusing to see their mother to hand over their wages and spending time together instead. They save their money and buy or make clothes which servants just don't wear at their station in life. The class system was that rigid.
Although a possible connection between Sister Veronica and the younger Lea was not really developed, it is obvious that both sisters only wanted love which, they found, they could only give each other. This was a tragic tale, gripping and absorbing.