When reader, Cheryl W informed me that there was a movie based on Hogarth's series, A Harlot's Progress, I instantly updated my Netflix queue. The film was a 2006 made-for-TV movie which follows Hogarth, a struggling artist, as he becomes infatuated with a prostitute and the life she leads.
The movie had a very distracting start for me. First of all I instantly recognized the lead, Toby Jones, as the perverted little page from Ever After. He may have had only three lines in that movie but I still had a hard time getting past the fact that he was the short, odd-shaped little man Angelica Houston strung along to get info on a match for her spoiled daughter (Duchess of Gordon, anyone?). But that's beside the point. The other thing distracting me was the sound/audio. Given, that could have been the DVD I had but it gave me a new found appreciation for why there's an Oscar category for sound editing. In every scene you could hear the street sounds or brothel groans or people chatting which was a fabtastic idea for giving you the true feel of how incredibly loud 18th Century London was. However, this audio was sometimes so loud I couldn't hear the actual dialogue. So, major points off in sound editing.
Some of the things I did like is that the movie followed the same basic story as the famous series, except with Hogarth involved in the Harlot's life, and documenting it in his paintings. Scenes would be broken up by showing the paintings in the series and zooming in on those great Hogarthian details. They were also able to seamlessly incorporate captions with fun facts about 18th century London such as, "Twenty people died of starvation in London every week." The acting was also very well done; I especially like Sophie Johnson's portrayal of Jane Hogarth. Sadly though, this was a small production movie so the sets were lacking sometimes.
As for the actual story, I went back and forth on whether I liked it or not. I am still undecided...which makes for me to be an excellent reviewer, right? I thought that the part of the Harlot was portrayed very true to that of which Hogarth intended. I loved how they expanded on her story in the film and used it as a window to how the lower classes lived at the time. What bothered me was the character of Hogarth's personal involvement with the Harlot. I like him as an observer but not a part of her life because those parts appeared awkward and just didn't mesh well.
Like I said, I'm on the fence about this flick. It shouldn't be avoided, but it's nothing to shout about. I would recommend it for any Hogarth fans or anyone who enjoys the gritty portrayal of the past. Perhaps Ever After fans should just stay away!