Picks and Pans Review: The Changeling

updated 04/18/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/18/1994 01:00AM

Bravo (Saturday, April 16, 8 p.m. ET)

B+

There probably isn't much viewer demand for blood-soaked Jacobean melodrama, but this BBC adaptation of Thomas Middleton and William Rowley's 1622 play has a good, mean kick. Lusty young Elizabeth McGovern hires her military-nobleman dad's scuttling beetle of a henchman (Bob Hoskins, with a red birthmark covering the right side of his face) to murder her fiancé, thus freeing her to many her true love (the suddenly ubiquitous Hugh Grant). Hoskins, his nostrils flaring with infatuation for McGovern, is only too happy to comply. The deed done, he demands his price, which is to sleep with McGovern. Atrocities and odd plot devices—ghosts, stabbings, alchemical potions that induce virgins to sneeze—come tumbling after, and McGovern, torn between her love for the delicate Grant and the demands of the bestial Hoskins, slides into demented trollophood. Yet out of this pile of rot blooms something like true romance, and that's what gives The Changeling its warped charm.

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