The Grotesque

[Updated: May 15,1999]

The Grotesque

Sting plays an enigmatic butler known as Fledge in The Grotesque (1996), a pitch-black comedy directed by John-Paul Davidson. The film marks Sting’s first dramatic big screen appearance with his wife, Trudie Styler (who plays his wife, Doris, in the film). The Grotesque was produced by Styler for Xingu Films, Sting and Trudie’s fledgling production company (Xingu Films also made Boys from Brazil (1993), a documentary also produced by Davidson which offers a haunting look at Rio street dwellers who are brought to Europe to become male prostitutes, and Michael Apted’s Moving the Mountain (1995), a powerful docudrama that chronicles the student democracy movement and Tiananmen Square uprising in China).

Set in rural England in 1949, The Grotesque features Alan Bates and Theresa Russell as an aristocratic couple whose eccentric and passionless lives are torn asunder after Fledge and Doris motor onto their estate (known as Crook House). Written with macabre glee by Patrick McGrath (who adapted the screenplay from his novel of the same name), the sobering details of a grisly murder are offset by comically blatant double entendres and recurrent phallic symbols—including an omnipresent dinosaur bone that may or may not be the murderer’s smoking gun. While the ambiguous circumstances surrounding the crime at Crook House drive the plot of The Grotesque, the equally ambiguous sexualities and intersecting lusts of the characters provide a full measure of the film’s entertainment.

Xingu Films/J&M Entertainment (UK)



Directed by: John Paul Davidson

Produced by: Trudie Styler (Xingu Films)

Anita Sumner (Associate Producer)

Written by: Patrick McGrath

(Based on his novel of the same name)


Sir Hugo Coal Alan Bates
Lady Harriet Coal Theresa Russell
Cleo Coal Lena Headey
Fledge Sting
Doris Trudie Styler
Sidney Giblet Steven Mackintosh
Harbottle Timothy Kightley
George Lecky Jim Carter
Little John Lecky Chris Barnes
Inspector Limp James Fleet
Lavinia Freebody Maria Aitken
Mrs Giblet Anna Massey
Hubert Cleggie Nick Lucas
Clerk Of Assize Patrick McGrath

Cinematography Andrew Dunn
Editing Tariq Anwar
Production Design Jan Roelfs
Co-Production Michael Seirton
Productuion Costume Design Colleen Atwood
Special Effects Stuart Brisdon
Choreography Sue Lefton

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