Saturday, 7 July 2018

THE NIGHT MANAGER

This is not particularly the kind of TV/Film I'd normally go for but after +Roy Gardiner's thoughts on the matter (https://goo.gl/DW1vX9), I thought I'd give it a go - and I'm pleased that I did. It's adapted from one of John le Carré's novels, so people familiar with that can know what kind of thing to expect.

Tom Hiddleston (Avengers, Midnight in Paris, The Deep Blue Sea) plays Jonathan Pine, The Night Manager of a hotel in Egypt. Through pure chance he becomes embroiled in a seedy world of gangsters, powerful underworld shenanigans, cut-throat situations, the world of spies and British Intelligence! Richard Roper is played by Hugh Lawrie (House, Blackadder, Jeeves and Wooster) and is the powerful nasty bloke who is dabbling in deceit and violence in a lawless world of 'do what you like if you have money'. He's an international arms-dealer operating under a cloak of humanitarian good deeds and facilitation of the moving around of agricultural plant.

Thereafter, it becomes a bit of a James Bond kind of thing really, though with much more screen-time afforded to the baddies! Pine becomes our hero, recruited by British Intelligence under the watchful eye of Angela Burr, played by Olivia Colman (Broadchurch, The Iron Lady, The Lobster) as he's planted as an inside man within the confidence of Mr Nasty. And so it begins - will our hero conquer the villains or will corruption and evil survive to fight another day.

It's really difficult to go back after watching this 6-part TV series and try to watch Hugh Lawrie in anything light, comic and fluffy, from whence he came, as he embraces this completely different role so amazingly well. (Remember the bumbling stuck-up buffoon in Blackadder!) He is genuinely scary and evil, portraying the kind of powerful underworld boss-man who you would fear to even look at the wrong way, knowing what, at his command, might become of you.

The photography, setting and ambience is engulfed well by Director Susanne Bier and the locations all round the globe were used to good effect to increase drama and claustrophobia. Some of the lingering, close shots of the actors, particularly the scheming face of Roper, are a delight, ensuring the impression of an even more sinister and dastardly anti-hero!

After slating Tom Hiddleston for the dour performance in I Saw the Light (https://goo.gl/BUUh0o) I have to eat my words to some degree and maybe it was indeed Hank Williams that was dour, and not he! In this role he was engaging and delightful, hard-nosed and convincing. The audience really get behind him even when he's having to demonstrate a nasty side to get on the inside. The rest of the cast do a decent job supporting, particularly Roper's switched-on, drunken side-kick Corkoran played by Tom Hollander (Pirates of the Caribbean, Mission Impossible, Valkyrie) who you just want to put a bullet through the head of!

I have to admit that I was dubious at the outset, but I really got engrossed and thoroughly enjoyed the whole 6 episodes. Much of it down to Lawrie's performance, but also the good story-writing and script along with great execution pulling it all together. Highly recommended.

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