Archive for September, 2012|Monthly archive page

Parade’s End (2012)

In based on novel, BBC, new, period drama, political, Recommendation, Review, romantic, series, war on 27/09/2012 at 7:49 pm

In case you hadn’t heard yet, the Beeb just did a little bit of what’s the Beeb’s terribly good at: make a superb historical drama. It stars brilliant actors, mainly Rebecca Hall and Benedict Cumberbatch, and involves the Great War, Tories and Suffragettes.

Neither the horrors of the war or the politics of the time make this 5 part drama worth watching for me. They are valuable ingredients, but not what make Parade’s End original, and maybe even remarkable. I have no idea if the novel of the same title by Ford Madox Ford features equally compelling protagonists – judging by this raving review the book is very much worth the read – but oh, they are compelling alright. Sylvia (Hall) and Christopher (Cumberbatch) are an unlikely couple strapped together by a racy moment of passion. Christopher in every sense represents conservatism: he is a brilliant man with stern values and morals. He sticks to his principles, which are built on morals. He is too ‘good’ for his own good. His unlucky wife Sylvia is the opposite. She represents everything he’s afraid of: she celebrates unbridled charm, wit and passion. She is easily bored, prone to sarcasm and hungry for love. Her husband’s love. Her provocations and tricks to gain his affections, however, push him away. The two grow distant, but long for each other. Christopher falls for a neat young girl who, even though she has terribly modern views being a Suffragette, awakens a passion that his wife seems to have killed in him. And thus the story continues.

Christopher and Sylvia are the estranged couple nobody wants to become. They torment each other throughout, and I was left desperately wanting them to cut their charades, to end their parades, and bloody get on with it and love each other. This is personal, and my favouring Sylvia’s capricious character over the in my view yawn-inducing Suffragette Valentine Wannop (Adelaide Clemens) probably says more about me than about this story. That’s why I think it’s an engaging and persuasive watch.



Never Never (2000)

In Recommendation, Review, series on 11/09/2012 at 12:38 pm

This two-part Channel 4 council estate drama pivots around John Parlour (John Simm) and Jo Weller (Sophie Okonedo). John tricks people into getting loans they can’t afford on a London council estate where only few have jobs or even a bank account. Jo, one of the residents, is knee-deep in debt and struggles to provide for her two young kids. And then everything changes.

Never Never, a story written by acclaimed playwright Tony Marchant, is essentially about good people doing bad things and vice versa. It’s free from any sort of class judgement that might put you off, elegantly letting people be people. Good tension throughout is created by the “will John become a good person with morals and stuff” question – which is, as it should, left unanswered (because stuff just isn’t that black/white, is it?). There’s also great acting (oh yes, Ruth Sheen is in it too, you know, one of Mike Leigh‘s favourites), this acting supported by the good writing, allowing for heaps of emotions left unspoken yet blatantly obviously present.

Even if the narrative is sometimes predictable to seasoned fiction readers and viewers, this production is essentially too in-your-face-honest and charming to disagree with it. That, and John Simm is just a bit too good to do anything wrong, innit.

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