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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark film, interesting story, and great music.
Tom Bates (Denholm Elliot) is a writer who pens little religious sentiments for things like greeting cards and hymns. His wife, Norma (Joan Plowright), is a kind and longsuffering woman who spends countless hours looking after their daughter, Patricia (Suzanna Hamilton), who is disabled. After what was thought to be a freak car-pedestrian accident, Patricia needs...
Published on January 5, 2002 by Sara

versus
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WEIRDLY DISTURBING
Once banned on the BBC, BRIMSTONE AND TREACLE (MGM) stars Sting as Martin Taylor, a charismatic, mysterious figure who insinuates himself into the household of the Bates. Tom Bates (Denholm Elliot) writes religious literature, his wife Norma (Joan Plowright) spends her time caring for their disabled, mute, daughter. Martin doesn't know the family, but convinces the Bates...
Published on September 16, 2003 by Robin Simmons


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark film, interesting story, and great music., January 5, 2002
By 
Tom Bates (Denholm Elliot) is a writer who pens little religious sentiments for things like greeting cards and hymns. His wife, Norma (Joan Plowright), is a kind and longsuffering woman who spends countless hours looking after their daughter, Patricia (Suzanna Hamilton), who is disabled. After what was thought to be a freak car-pedestrian accident, Patricia needs round-the-clock care. She cannot speak, cannot dress or bathe herself, cannot feed herself and cannot even seem to be cognizant of the daily events going on around her. Tom is convinced that Patricia is mentally `gone' from them forever and she cannot understand anything said about her. Norma, on the other hand, is full of faith that Patricia can hear and understand everything. One day, everything changes. Tom, the disillusioned-with-faith writer of psalms, bumps into Martin Taylor (Sting). Martin claims to have been not just a friend of Patricia's from school, but a boyfriend who loved her enough to ask her to marry him. Tom is naturally suspicious of him, both because he fears Martin might be a con-man and because he is afraid Martin might shed some light on the reasons why Patricia had her accident in the first place. Martin finds out where the Bates family lives and drops in. Norma takes an instant liking to him and persuades Tom to let him stay with them. He and Tom have a number of minor battles but he continually bolsters his image with Norma. He seems to share her faith that God has something miraculous planned for Patricia and he even begins calling Norma "Mumsy." ... The climax of the film arrives late one night when Martin moves in on Patricia. His terrible treatment of her awakens something within her and suddenly she remembers the wicked event that caused her sickness in the first place. Martin flees but the viewer is left with the knowledge that Patricia will tell all and the situation will be made right at last.
There is certainly room for speculation, particularly with the title that the film has, that the author is trying to suggest that Martin Taylor's role is not entirely evil yet not entirely good either. Rather than painting him as a demon or an angel, he is more of a character who simply sheds light on things. I consider this to be one of Sting's best film performances if not *the* best, out of his rather lackluster (and I say that with sadness, because I am a fan) movie career. I would recommend this movie to any Sting fan or any follower of Denholm Elliot's career, anyone who enjoys dark and/or indie films and definitely anyone who enjoys trying to crack a good mystery.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The enigma of a distasteful tale., December 14, 1999
By 
Roger Chesher (North West England) - See all my reviews
Dennis Potter is for many the most challenging and thought proving dramatist of our generation. Brimstone and Treacle does not quite reach the heady hights of "Pennies from Heaven" or the "Singing Detective" in terms of its dramatic invention but possibly exceeds them in its power to challenge thoughts surrounding conventional morality. Who is the villain in this piece? Is it the Sting character preying pervertedly upon an innocent, or is it the father whose infidelity triggered off the whole chain of events in the first instance. The intervention of the "pervert" releases the heroine from her coma, liberates the mother from a life of drudgery and exposes the father as an adulterer. In reality no harm is done to the girl. Is therefore Sting a Devil or an Angel, does harm sometimes need to be done to create good? The film improves enormously on the TV play with brilliant casting, an evocotive atmosphere and excellent music. Sting was perfectly cast. Watch it and start to think! It is criminal that this video is not available in Britain although it does appear on TV very occasionally.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The enigma of a distasteful tale., December 14, 1999
By 
Roger Chesher (North West England) - See all my reviews
Dennis Potter is for many the most challenging and thought proving dramatist of our generation. Brimstone and Treacle does not quite reach the heady hights of Pennies from Heaven or the Singing Detective in terms of its invention but possibly exceeds them in its power to challenge thoughts around conventional morality. Who is the villain in this piece? Is it the Sting character preying pervertedly upon an innocent, or is it the father whose infidelity triggered off the whole chain of events in the first instance. The intervention of the "pervert" releases the heroine from her coma, liberates the mother from her drudgery and exposes the father. In reality no harm is done to the girl. Is therefore Sting a Devil or an Angel, does harm sometimes need to be done to create good? The film improves enormously on the TV play with brilliant casting, an evocotive atmosphere and excellent music. Sting was perfectly cast. Watch it and start to think!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WEIRDLY DISTURBING, September 16, 2003
By 
Robin Simmons (Palm Springs area, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Brimstone and Treacle (DVD)
Once banned on the BBC, BRIMSTONE AND TREACLE (MGM) stars Sting as Martin Taylor, a charismatic, mysterious figure who insinuates himself into the household of the Bates. Tom Bates (Denholm Elliot) writes religious literature, his wife Norma (Joan Plowright) spends her time caring for their disabled, mute, daughter. Martin doesn't know the family, but convinces the Bates that he's an old friend of their daughter and moves in to do his thing. Is Martin a demon or an angel? See what happens when the daughter recovers her speech.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Black comedy with a bittersweet name, January 12, 2000
I saw this film shortly after Dennis Potter passed away. Made in 1982, the story is about a sinister young man called Martin Taylor (played perfectly by Sting), who uses charm and flattery to move in on an unsuspecting family. Denholm Elliott is a tormented father torn between guilt and anger over his daughter (Suzanna Hamilton), who has been left a helpless invalid since she was hit by a truck four years ago. Joan Plowright is a mother torn between hope and despair, always thinking that her daughter will one day recover.
Martin is an enigma, full of contradictions. He is angelic and diabolical. Sweet and sour. Good and bad. Everyone's friend and no one's friend.
This was a good movie with excellent performances, but I preferred the original 1976 version with Michael Kitchen. In that version you actually see Martin change into a demon and eating breath mints to hide the smell of sulphur. The 1982 version seems a bit more sordid. I'm hoping one day the 1976 version will come out on video, which would have a PG rating. The latter version really deserves an R rating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very under-rated film that deserves more attention, July 6, 2007
By 
S. O. Baldrick (Undisclosed location, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Brimstone and Treacle (DVD)
To quote a review I remember reading when this film came out, "Never have nice manners seemed so menacing." This is a creepy film - without doubt. Some people will definitely be freaked out by some of the subject manner. However, nothing is quite as it seems in this movie.

Sting does a damn fine job of acting here. I don't think anyone other than Sting could have done justice to the lead role, except perhaps a young Malcolm McDowell. The script by Dennis Potter is very smart too. I won't summarize the plot as others have already done so.

What I like is all the questions that pop up in your head that the film refuses to answer. Is Martin just the father's personal demon? His guilty conscience personified? Is Martin good or evil? Is he neither?

This film deserves much more attention than it got. It was on video tape only briefly in the U.S. and was unavailble for more than a decade.

Thankfully, this DVD came along. A good weird little film for when you are in a slightly strange mood.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something else..., March 25, 2005
By 
Pål Amundsen (Tønsberg, Vestfold Norway) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Brimstone and Treacle (DVD)
...that's for sure! You really have to be in a certain mood to watch this "peculiar" movie. Sting as the Devil himself, well as a big fan I must say that the man never stops to surprise me. I really liked him in The Grotesque (with Alan Bates) as well. He always acts to be very different from the sophisticated music-performer he is and is most famous for -so it is kind of funny to see him in these kind of "crazy" roles. Yes, the acting in "Brimstone..." is very good indeed -the story, well, different. Original, and sometimes funny -other times it just makes you sick. All I can say is; looking for an alternate movie-experience with a different "twist" then this might be what you're looking for..? I've seen it twice, and I don't regret it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Darkly Playful Symbolism, December 6, 2011
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This review is from: Brimstone and Treacle (DVD)
This is a very underrated little film. Don't be scared away just because Sting is in it...he is actually very well cast here, having the perfect face for this quirkily creepy role. The plot raises many questions about whether the means sometimes justify the ends in life, and how sometimes good is spawned by the wicked. The dark, autumnal atmosphere, great title and closing graphics, and the strange twists of plot, leave one puzzled but pleased when all is said and done. The soundtrack is a bit mixed...some songs should've been left out, but many of the moodier pieces work quite well. I recommend this film highly!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting film that shows a new side to Sting., June 30, 2000
By 
"srgranger" (California United States) - See all my reviews
When this came out it was considered an on the edge film. It's a bit violent and the play with good vs. evil can cause some to get upset. But if you are seeing Brimstone and Treacle for the first time in the 2000's, Sting's character might seem pretty tame considering what has come out since. There is a lot of very nice acting and well written dialogue. Definitely worth catching for any fan of the indie film or Sting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Be Careful What You Allow Into Your Home..., August 29, 2008
This review is from: Brimstone and Treacle (DVD)
Sweet words and the ability to lie with utter conviction. These are the tools that Martin Taylor (Sting) utilizes in order to bamboozle his way into the lives of total strangers. After initial failure, Martin "accidentally" bumps into Mr. Tom Bates (Denholm Elliott). Bates tries to give him the brush-off, but Martin is far too cunning for such a simple dismissal! Mr. Bates arrives home, where his wife, Norma (Joan Plowright) has been caring for their bed-ridden, brain-damaged daughter (Suzanna Hamilton from 1984). Home is not much of a refuge for Tom, as Norma is obsessed w/ their daughter's eventual return to normalcy. This both angers and frightens Tom, due to a little secret he is hiding from his wife. A secret that the daughter might somehow / some day remember. There's a knock at the door. Why, it's Martin, come to return Tom's wallet! That's funny, Tom can't recall being without it. Thank goodness Martin "found" it. Low and behold, he also happens to be the daughter's long lost boyfriend! This leads to Martin's slithering his way into a nice little stay at the Bates residence. He's even interested in taking over the unfortunate daughter's care! What an angelic person he is! Of course, we get to see that Martin has other plans for this beautiful, young, seemingly mindless invalid! Yep, he's about as trustworthy as Uncle Ernie in the movie TOMMY! The oblivious mum and suspicious (yet guilt-plagued) dad are unaware of just what it is they've allowed to cross their threshold! BRIMSTONE AND TREACLE is a disturbing, sometimes sickening tale of trickery, gullability, and terrible secrets. It's also funny as hell, in the best black comedy tradition. Watch and enjoy, but keep granny and the kiddies far away!...
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Brimstone and Treacle
Brimstone and Treacle by Richard Loncraine (DVD - 2003)
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