I'm a big John Le Carre fan and have read most of his books and I'm delighted to see the remakes. (Unfortunately I was not a fan of the recent remake of The Night Manager. Somehow it all just felt so improbable, off kilter. Nothing against Tom Hiddleston. Maybe I should try it again.) Anyhow, I recorded this back in November and yet somehow forgot about it and just found it on my DVR. So I finally watched it. I absolutely loved it.
I did not feel that it was too long: I appreciated how unhurried it was and I think now that compressing it into a 2-hour movie must have been a real challenge.
I am particularly impressed with Florence Pugh. What a brilliant performance! Her face is so expressive. She can say so much without speaking. I will watch for her in the future.
When I saw the film with Diane Keaton back in the day, I was very drawn in by Charlie’s story. Much as I loved Florence Pugh’s performance, there was an emotional neediness in Keaton’s Charlie that was lacking in the miniseries. She was a struggling nobody actor who was singled out for this wonderful opportunity in Greece -- wa hoo! Then this romantic stranger singles her out, seduces her, makes her fall in love with him. She wanted so much to believe it.
Then when she is taken for her "interview" and they systematically destroy the fiction she's adopted about her identity, her life -- they break her down. Someone here asked that question: Why does Charlie go along with this at all? I must say in the mini-series that is not clear. But in the movie, you can see it plainly: all that hopeful joy, thinking she was having this great good luck, this fairy tale romance – but then boom, the bubble is burst. Keaton visibly deflates, and of course that is when she was most vulnerable, so that's when Kurtz springs the trap. Klaus Kinski was absolutely wonderful. This scene is one of the few quibbles I have with the miniseries: the interrogation and "audition" with Marty fell a little flat for me. But that was minor.
(Fascinating to note the mastermind behind all this is named Kurtz. We know that name from the man who went too far and lost his moral bearings in Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now.)
The fact that people argue about the Israeli vs. Palestinian issue after seeing this show tells you how effective it was. I'm sure that was John Le Carre's hope. The book was written at a time when Americans were largely sympathetic to Israel, and Palestinians were seen as terrorists. (I realize that's a blatant generalization.) It is interesting to see this story now, in today's context, where so many people have a more sympathetic attitude toward the Palestinians. John Le Carre did a masterful job of showing both sides of the story, and this miniseries did justice to it.
As the point-of-view character, Charlie shows us very well how both sides make a compelling argument for their positions. If she's searching for moral high ground, she finds none. They all have dirty hands.
I also found the settings, costumes, hairstyles, even eyeglasses were spot on for the era. I felt the direction and cinematography were wonderful. It did get a bit muddled now and then changing locations, how much time had elapsed, etc. but I was able to keep up OK.
My only real quibble is with the last 15 minutes or so: Charlie's reactions in those last few minutes as she was forced to confess to Khalil. Somehow even after all these years, I remember the scene in the film: him demanding from her, “Who are you?” and her tiny voice answering, “I’m nobody.” And then his sudden, merciless murder. It was absolutely devastating to Charlie, to see Khalil basically executed right in front of her eyes. In the mini-series, Charlie's reaction just didn't work for me. Her tears seemed a bit by the book.
And in the movie, Charlie is literally destroyed emotionally by that climax. She'd been deliberately manipulated into falling in love with Joseph, then sent into a situation where she was again seduced into caring about people, and even developed feelings (if only sympathy and some admiration) for Khalil -- only to see them all killed as a direct result of her actions. It drove her to a breakdown. I found it a bit incredible that Miniseries Charlie seemed to take it all in stride.
I also did not understand the gift box she got while she was recuperating.
And I felt it was bizarre to see her track down Gadi in Germany and go seek him out to resume their love affair, apparently unfazed by her experiences. It felt a little too pat, a bit cliche, and out of character for them both.
But again, overall I absolutely loved it and was blown away by Florence Pugh. My comparisons with the movie are beside the point, but if you did enjoy this miniseries, you might want to dredge up the movie and watch it just to compare.
I remember walking out of the theater back in 1984, standing around in the street with my friends, dazed, more than just a little overwhelmed. It blew my mind how both sides were cold-hearted killers, and how Charlie had been such a pawn.