THE NIGHT MANAGER
(Sony Pictures) Out Now
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.
“EVERYTHING THAT MATTERS IN THE NOVEL HAS BEEN FAULTLESSLY RECREATED ON SCREEN”
Casting for the latest Moss Bros catalogue was a mixed bag.