18 March 2010 | Arctic_Wizard
Good but could have been better.
Having stumbled upon 'The Sculptress' on IMDb some years ago, I was immediately interested: Pauline Quirke ('Birds of a Feather') playing Olive Martin, a young woman incarcerated for brutally murdering her mother and sister, with Caroline Goodall as a work-hungry novelist trying to understand get inside her murderous psyche. After a few years trying to see it, I finally managed to borrow it on an old VCR and settle down one evening to watch it.
The first hour and a half is highly captivating portraying Olive and Roz (Goodall) initial encounter with Roz embarking on her investigation. The acting between Quirke and Goodall is fantastic, the script is well written and the directing is highly admirable. It was a pleasant surprise to see the exteriors of Oxford Prison, primarily known for it's use on ITVs 'Bad Girls', being used for the forbidden jail where much of the action takes place.
My main issue with 'The Sculptress' would be that I did find that the scriptwriter (and possibly Minnette Walters in her original novel) went off on a complete, wild tangent. He appears to forget about Quirke - who for the bulk of the second hour and half isn't featured – and instead focuses way too much on Goodhall's character and the unnecessary subplots surrounding her character. Because of this, the dark psychological thriller-element seems to be abandoned and it quickly turns into any other trashy TV drama. The seemingly-hastily written ending is rather obscure and very confusing. It is jam-packed with twists, turns and one-too-many flashbacks, leaving me completely baffled as to what had actually happened. I am a great admirer of open-endings but this was far too unclear and a little too amateurish.
Nonetheless, Pauline Quirke was sensational as Olive Martin. Forget Sharon Theodopolopodous - here she is barely recognizable: hidden beneath a gigantic fat-suit, with long dark hair and a ghostly-pale complexion, borrowing an evil glare in the process. I was particularly unnerved by the eerie lullaby she sings over the credits at the end. I did feel for Caroline Goodall's character when she and Olive come face to face in that dark prison cell. Caroline Goodall was also very good as the eager journalist desperate to uncover the truth behind Olive's disturbed behaviour.
Still, I'm very glad I was finally able to see this and would recommend it to anyone interested in the psychological thriller/crime-detective genre. Not to mention, anyone who admires Pauline Quirke.