Category: Matthew Macfadyen

Ripper Street (2013 BBC TV Series)

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London – As Dark as it Gets
Starring:  Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn, Adam Rothenberg 
 
I love London.  I’ve been there twice and could go back a thousand more times.  However, in all of my tours, I’ve yet to take the infamous Jack the Ripper walk at night to retrace his steps.  After watching this show, I can safely say, “I’ll pass.”

If you’re not into the dark side of humanity, the reality of the east side of London in the 19th century, along with debauchery, crime, and suffering pass on this one.  It takes a strong constitution to sit through this show and enjoy the stories.

Matthew MacFadyen (once are beloved Mr. Darcy) has dropped the aristocratic garb to become a detective (Inspector Edmund Reid) in the worse crime area of London called Whitechapel.  He plays the role well, along with the other characters in the story such as a detective (Sergeant Bennet Drake), an American doctor (Captain Homer Jackson), along with the brothel mistress and prostitute.

Be forewarned it can get pretty ugly.  If you cannot stomach body parties, mutilation, autopsies, and the like, you probably won’t care for it.  However, as far as grit and substance depicting the dark side of London the show does a fine job.  The episodes are not only about solving the gruesome crimes, but it also contains great subplots with each character.  Inspector Edmund Reid’s situation is quite heartbreaking.

If you’re interested, check out the show website. They have a great blog about the historical facts they use in the episodes, some of which are quite shocking.  OFFICIAL SITE 

Needless to say, the British once again triumph in their ability to bring good drama to the screen.  Though I did find some of the stories deeply disturbing, sometimes you need to go beyond the fairytale aristocratic life of London and cross the river to the horrible reality of poverty and crime.

This show is a real eye-opener between the separation of class in the Victorian era.

UPDATE 5/27/16 – The show had been cancelled and resurected.  I just finished binge watching Season 3 on Netflix, which sums it up as if it’s the last in the series.  However, low and behold, it was brought back to life.  Season 3 is extremely dark and emotional, which I won’t elaborate upon less I give spoilers.  It’s full of surprises that you won’t see coming in characters who have gone to the dark side because of greed.

Any Human Heart (2010 Masterpiece Classic)

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Cast:  Sam Claflin, Matthew Macfadyen, Jim Broadbent

Another night surfing for something to watch brought me to this Masterpiece Classic on Netflix consisting of four episodes.  Any Human Heart is based on a novel written by William Boyd, which I have not read.  As far as how close the Masterpiece adaptation is to the written work, I have no idea.

It’s frankly an emotional journey about one man – Logan Mountstuart from his coming of age to his death.  The movie starts on his pursuit to lose his virginity, along with his college friends that he remains fairly close to throughout life.  Of course, like all young men, virginity is lost, and the boy grows into a man.  Warning: There are some very graphic sexual scenes that may offend.  They are boys in rut.

The story follows his pursuit to become a novelist, for which he accomplishes the writing of one book and never seems to come to a place of finishing another.  Life takes him through a loveless marriage, an affair with his one true love, his stint as a British naval intelligence officer during WWII, his rubbing elbows with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Edward VIII and his wife Wallis Simpson, and finally ending up a recruited, but clueless revolutionary.  Portions of his life are lived in opulent wealth, while toward the end of life he’s eating dog food to survive.

There are three actors who play Logan from young man to old – Sam Claflin, Matthew Macfadyen, Jim Broadbent.  I enjoyed Matthew fairly well, but I cannot say it was his best performance.  Logan, as a character, is interesting enough. He lives with the philosophy of his father, that life is merely about luck.  It’s either good luck or back luck.  There isn’t a God.  There’s only luck, and you hear that phrase until you’re tired of hearing that phrase.  The greatest heartache of his life revolves around his wife, daughter, and unborn child he loses during the war.  It’s a loss he never truly recovers from the remainder of his days.

Any Human Heart isn’t the best of series that I’ve watched.  It’s mildly engaging and a thoughtful look at the meaning of life from birth to death.  By the end you’re beginning to weigh the good and bad luck in your own life.  One part of the movie I did enjoy was the multiple times Logan sat down, rolled a piece of paper into the typewriter, and sat there waiting for his next book to come out of him.  He had writer’s block that lasted for a lifetime and a blank page that never got filled.

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