Reviews written by registered user
|3 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having seen the advertisements, I was somewhat pessimistic about the
return of Sergeant Lewis to our screens. I am an ardent fan of
Inspector Morse and, of course, in the original series Lewis worked
wonderfully as Morse's sidekick. But I was unconvinced that the
character could be developed to assume the lead role. Happily, however,
my doubts were proved unfounded. By showing us that his wife has died,
the writer (Stephen Churchett) immediately gives Lewis a whole new
dimension. Whereas, previously, he was the everyman to Morse's
reflective, sombre, and intriguing character, Lewis has become a deeper
thinker with a solemn demeanour. Kevin Whately has handled this
transition of character very effectively.
Regarding the plot, Lewis: Reputation certainly has the feel of classic Morse. The characters embroiled in the typically gruesome murders are standard fare for Colin Dextor's preoccupation with the upper class and academia of Oxfordshire; the family-owned enterprise fallen on hard times and the embittered lecturer. And, seemingly to remind us that this is far from a departure from Inspector Morse, the backdrop - I believe - is Jesus College. Indeed, Morse lives on in this episode; he evens cracks the case. One hopes, however, that in future episodes, Inspector Lewis - with the solid Laurence Fox as Sergeant Hathaway as his "bag man" - remains the focus of attention, to allow the character to develop in his own right.
As a resident of Oxfordshire, it is lovely to see such a celebrated television series set in its picturesque countryside. As usual, the locations are cherry-picked and sumptuous; the Cotswold stone of the Bodleian Library, for instance, looks radiant in the summer sunshine. There was a minor continuity error in a driving scene but I'll let that slide. It is a shame that Barrington Pheloung's famous theme cannot be reused for the new series, yet his accompanying score floats through this episode, complementing the mood and settings in the usual effortless fashion. All in all, Lewis: Reputation marks the advent of a promising new series, whilst commemorating the memory of an old favourite.
I went into this film with no preconceptions whatsoever. I only knew
the title and the two leads. I left the cinema having watched the best
film I have seen on the big screen all year. I didn't know what to
expect of a film called The Constant Gardener; it obviously wouldn't be
about gardening but I couldn't really guess what kind of material to
expect. I suppose it helped that I was in a receptive mood, but the
deep political and social criticisms that this film imparts on its
viewers reached me without being overly emotive. And nor was the
machinery of this message dry or slow in its delivery. Indeed, the
themes of the film crept up on me unaware as I drifted off into the
plot, which was brought to life effortlessly by Fiennes and Weisz.
I cannot claim to have seen all of their films but I have never quite warmed to either of these actors. They often seem to play samey parts and I was hoping that this wouldn't be the case this time. I was pleasantly surprised because, although in some ways they assumed their usual typecast roles (the socially awkward character for Fiennes and the well-to-do, happy-go-lucky girl for Weisz), they both portrayed utterly convincing characters. And in a film such as this, it is incredibly important to develop the audience's empathy for the protagonists. This was achieved very effectively in the first full scene that two share together, as yet unacquainted, wherein Weisz's character, Tessa, launches a volley of prickly questions at Fienne's Justin after his lecture on international diplomacy.
Tessa attacks Justin's lecture on the basis that our involvement in the Iraq war renders the diplomatic moral high-ground that he claimed the UK treads a veritable mire, an argument which he flusters to counter. Straightaway we learn the fundamental facets of these two characters' personalities. We anticipate the ensuing sexual encounter, that will define their relationship, even down to Justin's cringe-worthy surprise at such an attractive woman showing an interest in him. Job done we know what makes these characters tick. And that was achieved in the space of fifteen minutes. We cut to a favela in Nairobi where it is no surprise to see the proactive Tessa despite her heavy pregnancy lending her support to a young doctor, Arnold (Hubert Koundé), doing his rounds to promote AIDS testing. Justin is safely behind his desk, at the wheel of his Range Rover, or nurturing flowers in his garden.
Jeffrey Caine's screenplay makes no bones about what John le Carré thinks about British involvement in foreign "diplomatic" matters. Justin and his cronies in their official capacity turn a blind eye to anything of actual importance, for fear of harming international relations. Tessa, on the other hand (now the wife of Justin) is forthright in her criticisms of the corruption she sees in the foreign medical "aid effort" in Kenya. Indeed, the fight against social injustice is her very raison d'être (in this way, her character echoes Cate Blanchett's Veronica Guerin in the film of the same name), something which Justin fails to realise until it is too late. Incidentally, I think it was a bad choice to show the pivotal point of the plot, Tessa's death, at the start of the film, a device which, in my opinion, has become too common in recent films.
We are led to believe that Tessa is having an affair with Arnold; a deception that negates our affinity with her in the short-term but ultimately makes us greater appreciate her personal sacrifices. For me this was an excellent piece of character development; hinging not on Tessa but on Justin, for whom her death is a tragic event of very mixed emotions, which was deftly handled by Ralph Fiennes. At first he believes he has uncovered a litany of infidelity on her part in the face of which he arrests his grief only to discover that his distrust was unfounded; the upshot of which is immense heartache. The scenes where he imagines talking to Tessa, wishing she was by his side, are painfully touching and illustrative of his desire to pursue her cause.
This film seems longer than just over two hours but that's not because it drags; rather because it fits so much in to that time frame. It commences as a romance and then evolves into a political drama before it morphs into a paranoid crime thriller (complete with pre-teen computer expert), and finally culminates in a mixture of all three. A lesser film would have failed in its ambition to deliver so much. The Constant Gardener, however, manages to be thought-provoking - without resorting to propaganda - in what is a very controversial area for debate (especially in light of the impending avian 'flu pandemic), and still maintains an outwardly entertaining backdrop for the themes it seeks to explore. Hence it works on two levels: it promotes social awareness whilst being an instantly gratifying diversion.
In summary, this film has a lot to say and spans several genres but manages to compact it all into a coherent and compelling two hours. The cinematography is not ground-breaking; the panning is sometimes disorienting when it was probably intended to be jarring; and the political commentary is somewhat one-sided and idealistic. But the acting is superb across the board (look out for, Bill Nighy, Danny Huston, Gerard McSorely, and Pete Postlethwaite in particular); the sound track is reflective of the mood; and the locations feel genuine (as they did in City Of God). Fernando Meirelles is clearly not afraid to tackle contentious subjects, which is refreshing in a period of cinema which seems averse to discussing the world we live in at anything beyond a superficial level. A thoroughly enjoyable film 8/10.
Nobody's written any comments on this so I'll chip in. I really can't
remember much about "Bad Boys" apart from that it made me and my
brother laugh a lot. Mainly we were laughing at the over-the-top
Scottish accent of Fraser and Malky's bungling sidekicks. The theme
tune was a cheap as it could have been and the only reason we watched
it was because we were about thirteen and 10 and they repeated the
advert so many times we felt compelled to do so. But the story lines
were so off the wall that you couldn't help but fall for its charms. My
favourite episode was the one where Fraser faked his own death (for the
insurance pay out, I think) and then rose up from the coffin singing
"My Way" at his funeral. Genius!
It's actually one of my biggest regrets that I never saw the series finale to this show: the ratings were obviously awful because it lost its normal slot after three or four shows and kept getting moved around. I'll never be able to forget "Bad Boys" for this reason, since I suddenly saw that the final episode was on and tried to record it because my Mum was watching something else (probably the news or something else pointless like that). No doubt influenced by the slapstick violence of the programme, I reacted badly when my Mum stopped the video (since I was "disturbing" the news). I punched a window clean through and still have the scars to prove it. Don't do it!! Even if you did just miss the end to your favourite show.