Lucinda Coxon and directed by Marc Munden, this story of a prostitute named Sugar who is determined to better her station in life and perhaps wreak revenge on the males who have tampered and toyed with her, the 244-minute, four-part series begins with Sugar visiting a prostie friend who's been beaten to near death by two clients. The dank, ugly ambiance, shown in brief, deft strokes, coupled with the utter sadness of this scene grabs us immediately and lets us know that we are in territory imagined with a good grip on reality.
Sugar is played by that excellent and increasingly versatile actress Romola Garai, above, and she is by turns lovely, frightening and exquisite. She keeps a part of Sugar's character from us, and this is all to the good, since she also learns about herself and about life as she moves along.
Chris O'Dowd. Yes, the numbskull from The IT Crowd who has lately appeared in U.S. films from Gulliver's Travels to Bridesmaids to Friends With Kids.
O'Dowd is a terrific comedian, with a special kind of denseness that is securely his own. That this same denseness would travel from comedy to drama and the tragedy of senseless class distinctions is somewhat of a shock. How did they have the idea to cast this actor, and he to go for broke with all cylinders burning?
Also excellent are Amanda Hale as Rackham's unstable wife (at left) and Gillian Anderson, below, as Sugar' madame-and-more. Every role -- including those played by Richard E. Grant and Shirley Henderson -- is cast with enormous smarts and delivered with conviction and style.