Review: 'Parade's End' a sumptuous look at loss
By April MacIntyre Feb 27, 2013, 17:54 GMT
HBO\'s "Parade\'s End" is a fabulous and slow boil, a story of loss on many levels. Loss of a chance at real love, loss of the love of one\'s country; loss of faith and loss of traditions that defined a way of life.
HBO's "Parade's End" is a fabulous and slow boil, a story of loss on many levels. Loss of a chance at real love, loss of the love of one's country; loss of faith and loss of traditions that defined a way of life.
"Downton Abbey" it is not, though similar in the time period and elite English upper class featured as main players. There's no sense of bubbly, joie de vivre or soapy arcs of character dilemmas. This is high brow drama and takes patience to absorb.
Ford Madox Ford's Edwardian-period novels (adapted screenplay by Tom Stoppard) have been brought to life by Benedict Cumberbatch in this four part series.
Christopher Tietjens (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the story's cerebral and utterly stiff upper lip central character, his object of physical affection, Sylvia (Rebecca Hall) is all spirit and spit, as she seduces his body but never his mind. Chemistry can only take you so far and sexual fire wanes, and what we get are two people married who have no soul connection whatsoever. Hall has never been better.
War veteran Tietjens is caught - like all these characters - in swiftly changing times, sort of the American 1960s for Britain in the sweep of the social agendas going down.
Tietjens is employed at the Imperial Department of Statistics, and has a brother (Rupert Everett); a best friend, poet Macmaster (Stephen Graham from Boardwalk Empire), and who ultimately crosses paths with Valentine Wannop (Adelaide Clemens), a young suffragette who owns Tietjens completely in the love game.
Janet McTeer is cast as Sylvia's mother; Miranda Richardson is Mrs. Wannop, a novelist; Roger Allam is cast as General Campion and Rufus Sewell is cast as the Rev. Duchemin.
Like "Downton," this "Parade's End" is a fish out of water tale for many of the characters - a mourning of the times changing ever too quickly. The miniseries is replete with a lesson in how class was jigged up ever so precisely in the UK while we Americans were absorbing the poorest of the UK and Europe, and trying to keep out of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" documented sausage factory vats while the corporate owners of the country were dealing with our rebellious labor unions in their infancy.
If anything, please watch for the brilliant screenplay, the gorgeous costumes, stunning production design, Benedict's velvet baritone voice and sumptuous locales.
Parade’s End (five hours) begins Tuesday at 9 p.m. (parts 1 and 2) on HBO. Continues Wednesday at 9 p.m. (parts 3 and 4) and concludes Thursday at 9 p.m. (part 5).