Chiwetel Ejifor leads an all-star cast in this gritty conspiracy thriller in which he plays a cop searching for the murderer of a crime boss. Detective Inspector Jonah Gabriel returns to ... See full summary »
There's always a risk when adapting the written word to a screenplay; the risk that the nuances of the one will be lost when rendered to the other. Fortunately the BBC has a fine pedigree when transferring both book & play to the screen (from 'The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy' to Charles Dickens, & any number of Shakespeare's plays), as well as when working in collaboration with international broadcasters (who could forget the excellent 'Rome'?).
Their vast experience in this field has really paid off with 'Zen', a detective series based on the novels of English crime writer Michael Dibdin. Although there are some differences between the novels & the television series, they are minor & serve to facilitate the adaptation from the written to the visual. The television characters are perhaps slightly softer than their written counterparts, a necessity of economy when one considers that each episode is only ninety minutes long. Despite that the characters are well-rounded, with Rufus Sewell doing more than enough to cement his place in what is bound to be remembered as a modern classic of television.
In addition to Sewell's excellent suitability for the role, he is surrounded by an equally impressive international cast. The direction, lighting & shot composition all contribute to producing a superb whole, & it would be remiss not to mention the wardrobe, who do a fine job of catching that Italian verve.
In essence 'Zen' is a hugely enjoyable series of tasteful whodunnits, which never reveal who really did do it until the end. At the time of writing, the real mystery is whether all eleven of Dibdin's novels will be televised - it would be a crime if they weren't.
Altogether a stylish series with a sophistication brought about by understated subtlety.
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