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Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston star in the new BBC series The Night Manager. ComiConverse Contributor Elodie Cure provides our mid-season review.
Since February the 21st, the new miniseries The Night Manager directed by Susanne Bier has been broadcast on BBC One (it will begin on the 19th of April in the USA). Notably starring Tom Hiddleston (Crimson Peak, The Avengers) and Hugh Laurie (House, Tomorrowland), the six-part series is based on the novel of the same name, written by John Le Carré and published in 1993. After two failed attempts by film companies to adapt the book on the big screen, this series is “an unexpected miracle” for the writer himself.
The story follows Jonathan Pine, a former British soldier who is recruited by a branch of British intelligence to infiltrate the inner circle of arms dealer Richard Onslow Roper. In order to succeed in this undercover operation, Jonathan must engage in criminal activity.
The whole series revolves around the relationship between Jonathan Pine and Richard Roper that Le Carré himself had described as “ambiguity, sexual rivalry and the submerged craving for one another’s destruction.”
Tom Hiddleston portrays Jonathan Pine. Best known for playing Loki in the Marvel Comics franchise films, the 35-years old English actor, looking dapper, engages himself fully in this performance. As a result, Pine is the perfect spy. Jonathan has it all: a very sharp mind (he figured out where the key to Roper’s secret office was from a random comment about peppermints), an ease with deception (he conceals his true identity from almost everyone) and a charismatic air (seemingly every woman he meets falls under his spell). The character goes by four different aliases, and tells just enough lies to make his story plausible to the audience.
Facing him, Hugh Laurie plays Richard Roper, described by one of his victims as, “the world’s most evil man.” He lives in a sexy, glamorous, and seductive world. After two episodes where his awfulness and cruelty were reported and experienced by others, the third episode finally shows the real Richard Roper. When he witnessing the suicide of a friend’s young daughter, what bothers him is having to reschedule a business meeting. At first, Hugh Laurie seems a curious choice of actor to portray such a despicable villain. Audiences are more used to seeing him as an acerbic life saver. However, Laurie digs deep and creates a deliciously awful villain.
The photography in the series is superb, traveling from one country to another through different type of landscapes. Nothing is left random in this series: every shot is meticulously and carefully thought out to render a unique aesthetic.
For all the great acting and sumptuous scenery, a captivating and substantial plot is missing so far. The first three episodes of the series are, on the whole, rather tedious and a shade disappointing. I have not given up on this series and I am still waiting for something more exciting to happen. The production has all the key ingredients to make The Night Manager a memorable series. Moreover, the BBC has renewed the series for a second season. Let’s hope that the best of the show is yet to come.
The next episode will be channeling this Sunday, the 13rd March on BBC One.
Elodie Cure is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow her on Twitter @Elodie_Cure.
The Night Manager still has to prove it is worth watching.