TL;DR – This is a truly bizarre but entirely compelling show, that blends fiction and reality with a deft hand
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
A couple of years ago there was this odd film that exploded into the world out of nowhere, it was an exploration of Queen Anne full of intrigue and irreverence. When something like that blasts out into the world you try to find out what the creators will do next, so when I heard the latest series around Catherine the Great was writing by Tony McNamara one of the writers of The Favourite I had to give it a watch and it was a good choice.
So to set the scene, Catherine (Elle Fanning) is a starry-eyed young noble who has had the fortune to be matched with the current Emperor of Russia, Peter III (Nicholas Hoult). She brings him a branch as a present of her love, living in this world of fantasy right up until the local archbishop ‘Archie’ (Adam Godley) checked to see if she was still a virgin. The realities of the Russian court were nothing like she had thought, with violence and bitterness at every turn. Still, she found comfort in her maid Marial (Phoebe Fox), the odd wisdom of Aunt Elizabeth (Belinda Bromilow), and the books of Orlo (Sacha Dhawan). Maybe she could find a place here in this strange land … or maybe yet, could not this strange land bend to her will. Now we will be looking at the series as a whole and as such there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
TL;DR – This is sort of the cinematic equivalent of sitting down under a doona in your PJs eating ice cream while vegging out on some TV. Perfectly pleasant and even enjoyable in places, but with not really any substance with it.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Well, I am going to get something out of the way right from the start, I have
not watched a single episode of Downton
Abbey before today. I, of course, know what it is and also thanks to the
internet and the enormous fan following it has, I know most of the main plot
points but it never interested me to hunt down the DVDs. I say this so if you
are a fan of the show you can put my critiques in context, however, I am mostly
writing this for those like me who have never seen it before and may get
brought along for what is billed as the cinematic event of the year.
So to set the scene, it has been two years since the series finished off and
life at Downton is moving on at its usual pace, but no one could be prepared
for the letter that is making its way through the Royal Mail system all the way
from London. For you see King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine
James) will be spending the night at Downton as part of their Yorkshire tour.
Suddenly everything is thrown into chaos as Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville) and
Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern) rush to get the house ready, but there are
more problems on the horizon and I am not just talking about the boiler kicking
TL;DR – A beautiful film, wonderfully acted, but it does glaze over history
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
So we are about to look at Victoria and Abdul a film that promotes itself as ‘Based on Real Events’ … ‘Mostly’. Now, on the one hand, this could sum up most ‘based on true events’ films, but it is telling that they had to add the disclaimer which we will see as we go through it. Overall I did like Victoria and Abdul despite its many issues, but it does present a very one-sided view of the past and that is deeply problematic. Though I must say it was interesting watching the BBC make something that is almost irreverent about the Royal Family.