Dance with a Stranger (1985) - Rotten Tomatoes

Dance with a Stranger (1985)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

This darkly haunting slightly fictionalized film is a retelling of the life and death of Ruth Ellis (Miranda Richardson), the last woman to be executed in England. Ellis, a divorcee and ex-prostitute works as a "hostess" in a tacky nightclub. There she meets and begins an obsessive love affair with upper-class David Blakely (Rupert Everett), who eventually discards her. Still obsessed and jealous because of David's upcoming marriage to a woman of his own class, Ellis murders him. Miranda Richardson, in a stark, knock-out performance is outstanding as the cold, calculating Ellis, unscrupulous in her use of everyone to get what she wants. Ian Holm, in an often-overlooked performance, is superb as the man who loves Ellis, supporting her and her teenage son, without ever gaining her love. He is her mainstay and the surrogate father to her teenage son, who Ellis has little time for. In his own, quiet way he is as obsessed as Ellis. The screenplay, adapted by Shelagh Delaney remains faithful to the true story, taking only minor dramatic license. Dance With a Stranger is an uncompromising look at obsessive love and its consequences on others. The story is made even more poignant because of the sad life and eventual suicide of Ellis' real son.


Rupert Everett
as David Blakeley
Ian Holm
as Desmond Cussen
Tom Chadbon
as Anthony Findlater
Jane Bertish
as Carole Findlater
David Troughton
as Cliff Davis
Paul Mooney
as Clive Gunnell
Stratford Johns
as Morrie Conley
Joanne Whalley
as Christine
Susan Kyd
as Barbara
David Beale
as Man in Little Club
Tracy-Louise Ward
as Girl with David Blakely
Miki Iveria
as Landlady
Lizzie McKenzie
as Woman in Launderette
Ian Hurley
as Policeman
Charles Cork
as Policeman
Colin Rix
as Landlord
Tony Mathews
as Customer
Charon Bourke
as Ballroom Singer
View All

Critic Reviews for Dance with a Stranger

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (2)

A film of astonishing performances and moody, atmospheric visuals.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

There's a very good reason to see this movie, and her name is Miranda Richardson. Dance with a Stranger is her first picture, and while her portrayal of Ruth stops just short of being great, it's undeniably virtuosic.

July 10, 2019 | Full Review…

Miranda Richardson gives a brilliant performance as Ruth Ellis in Mike Newell's gloomy and dowbeat film noir, based on the life of the last British femme to be hanged for murder.

July 16, 2005 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

An unforgettable performance by Miranda Richardson.

August 22, 2004 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Compelling fact-based drama

August 26, 2002 | Rating: 4/5

Brilliantly exposes the dark underside of the supposedly happy and benign decade of the 1950s.

February 28, 2002 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Dance with a Stranger

Based on the story of Ruth Ellis - the last woman to be hanged in Britain. The film provides the tale of the build up toward her crime of passion. Miranda Richardson (possibly better known for her comedy roles) plays a great role here as a woman who doesn't suffer fools gladly and a fiesty, perhaps controversial character of her time and has a weakness in the man she loves. I am unaware of how factual this film is, but it made for entertaining viewing.

Lady D'arbanville
Lady D'arbanville

Super Reviewer

Good News/Bad News Good News: Miranda Richardson is incredible. Beyond her command of the character, which in itself is remarkable, is her sheer screen presence. To quote Steve Wiecking, she looks like a "delicious chilled confection". Bad News: The film has a BBC-made-for-television feel to it, especially the sound reproduction and score. Good News: The docudrama presentation lends itself well to detail and, as far as I can tell, historical accuracy. Ruth's debilitating codependency with her abusive and alcoholic beau is laid before us with excruciating clarity. Bad News: Except for a postscript reference, there are no details about Ruth's trial, incarceration, execution, or the impact it all had [if any] on public attitudes and perceptions. Dance With A Stranger delivers a detailed reenactment of a terminally dysfunctional relationship, but barely hints at the tragic consequences.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

dark intriguing movie. miranda richardson is sensational.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Dance with a Stranger Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features