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Something to watch tonight: Tuesday 5 September
The Little Drummer Girl (Park, 2018) is streaming on ThreeNow
I’ve been meaning to recommend this one here, or on my regular weekly slot on Nights at RNZ National, but every time I think I’ve nailed down where it’s available, it disappears.
Now, I can confirm that The Little Drummer Girl has landed at ThreeNowwhere you can absorb it all for free.
I’m always a sucker for a le Carré adaptation and this six-part 2018 BBC version of a 1983 novel – already adapted for the big screen in 1984 as a vehicle for Diane Keaton – really hits the spot.
Obviously, you’ve got le Carré’s usual combination of characters with mixed or conflicted motives, operating in a milieu where nothing is quite as it seems but the stakes are awfully high, but here we can add the satisfying extra space allowed by a TV series and a cast from heaven: Michael Shannon as a ruthless Mossad spy chief, Alexander Skarsgård coaching and then falling in love with (or is he?) the young English actress Charlie, my first experience of the genius that is Florence Pugh.
Le Carré’s fascination with con artists, philanderers, fabulists and fibbers of all kinds is in top gear here. Shannon’s Kurtz having to check which name and glasses he’s supposed to be wearing before every meeting; Gaddi (Skarsgård) playing the part of terrorist Khalil and his younger brother Salim so effectively that Charlie – and the audience – has to stop and take stock every so often and ask, hold on – who was he then?
And then there is Pugh as Charlie – charmingly impugning the reputation of actors everywhere as rogues not to be trusted. At one point she convincingly spins a yarn about her con-man father dying in prison – a story plucked straight from le Carré’s own life.
(From my review at RNZ Widescreen)
Most interesting to film buffs is that The Little Drummer Girl is directed by Park Chan-wook, whose Decision to Leave blew festival audiences away last year and his 2003 masterpiece Oldboy has just been given a 20th anniversary remaster and rerelease.
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Interestingly, The Little Drummer Girl was only six (roughly one-hour and commercial-free) episodes when it debuted on the BBC but is now eight 40-ish minute episodes sprinkled with commercials on ThreeNow. I’m not sure what impact that might have on the storytelling.