(Sony Pic­tures) Out Now

Crime Scene - - CON­TENTS - By PHILIP KEMP

Is it as good as ev­ery­one says? Our ver­dict on the John le Carré adap.

Sur­pris­ingly, given the grip­ping plots and po­tent char­ac­ters he fur­nishes, this is the first time in 25 years that one of John le Carré’s nov­els has been adapted for TV, and the wait was al­most worth it. The Night Man­ager, orig­i­nally pub­lished in 1993, has been skil­fully up­dated, shorn of a few plot di­ver­sions, and sub­jected to one wholly un­ex­pected cast­ing de­ci­sion. And, as le Carré him­self gen­er­ously con­cedes (in an af­ter­word ap­pended to the new pa­per­back reis­sue), ev­ery­thing that mat­ters in the novel – sto­ry­line, char­ac­ter, pre­vail­ing mood, un­der­ly­ing themes – has been faultlessly recre­ated on screen.

Jonathan Pine (Tom Hid­dle­ston), dis­af­fected exarmy wan­derer, is night man­ager of a smart Cairo ho­tel. His ac­tions in­di­rectly lead to the bru­tal death of a woman he loves at the hands of her thug­gish Egyp­tian boyfriend, who’s in ca­hoots with ob­scenely rich Bri­tish il­le­gal-arms dealer Richard Roper. When Pine is ap­proached by an un­of­fi­cial off­shoot of UK in­tel­li­gence, of­fer­ing him the chance to bring Roper down, he ac­cepts. But it’s a per­ilously dan­ger­ous mis­sion.

The cast car­ries it su­perbly. Hid­dle­ston, re­strained, watch­ful, mask­ing deep-seated loathing un­der a mask of smooth ur­ban­ity, is as good as he’s ever been. Tom Hol­lan­der is at once comic and men­ac­ing as Roper’s gay, boozy right-hand man, Ma­jor ‘Corky’ Corko­ran. In an au­da­cious switch the novel’s Leonard Burr, head of the mav­er­ick agency that re­cruits Pine, has be­come An­gela Burr, played by the peer­less Olivia Colman – and since Colman was preg­nant dur­ing the shoot, so is her char­ac­ter. But the rev­e­la­tion is Hugh Lau­rie as uber-vil­lain Richard Roper, his su­per­fi­cial bon­homie ren­dered all the more un­nerv­ing by the lethal stare of a snake about to strike.

Screen­writer David Farr and Dan­ish di­rec­tor Su­sanne Bier im­merse them­selves fully in le Carré’s sub­tle, treach­er­ous world, sus­tain­ing the ten­sion un­err­ingly across the six episodes. Lo­ca­tions – Switzer­land, Devon, Roper’s fortress-turned-luxury-villa on Mal­lorca – are tellingly de­ployed to en­hance the mood of cos­mopoli­tan amoral­ity. And the cred­its – ob­jets de luxe in­ge­niously mor­ph­ing into lethal weaponry – de­serve an award of their own.


Cast­ing for the lat­est Moss Bros cat­a­logue was a mixed bag.

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