"THE WAY WE LIVE NOW" (2001) Review
Some thirteen years ago, the BBC aired "THE WAY WE LIVE NOW"
, a four-part টেলিভিশন adaptation of Anthony Trollope's 1875 novel. Adapted দ্বারা Andrew Davies and directed দ্বারা David Yates, the miniseries starred David Suchet, Shirley Henderson and Matthew Macfadyen. "THE WAY WE LIVE NOW"
told the story of a Central European financier's impact upon upper-crust British society during the Victorian era. Augustus Melmotte arrives in লন্ডন with his সেকেন্ড wife and his daughter, Marie in the 1870s. Not long after his arrival, Melmotte announces a new scheme to finance a railroad project from Salt Lake City in Utah to the Gulf of Mexico. And he promises instant fortune to those who would invest in his scheme. The Melmotte family is also surrounded দ্বারা a বৃত্ত of decadent aristocrats and nouveau riche businessmen, all trying to get a piece of the financial pie. One of the investors is Sir Felix Carbury, a young and dissolute baronet who is quickly running through his widowed mother's savings. In an attempt to restore their fortunes, his mother, Lady Matilda Carbury writes historical potboilers - a 19th century predecessor to 20th century romance novels. She also plans to have Felix marry Marie, who is an heiress in her own right; and marry daughter Henrietta (Hetta) to their wealthy cousin, Roger Carbury. Although Marie falls in প্রণয় with Felix, Melmotte has no intention of allowing his daughter to marry a penniless aristocrat. And Hetta shows no interest in Roger, since she has fallen in প্রণয় with his young ward, an engineer named . However, Montague also proves to be a thorn in Melmotte's side, due to his suspicions about the legitimacy over the railroad scheme.
As one can see, the story lines that stream from Trollope's novel seemed to be plenty. In a way, the plot reminds me of the numerous story arcs that permeated 2004's "HE KNEW HE WAS RIGHT". Although some of the story arcs have nothing to do with Augustus Melmotte, nearly everyone seemed to have some connection to the financier. The exceptions to this rule proved to be the characters of American-born Mrs. Winifred Hurtle, Roger Carbury and Ruby Ruggles, a young farm girl who lives on Roger's estate. Mrs. Hurtle's story was strictly limited to her efforts to regain the affections of former lover and help Ruby deal with the licentious Sir Felix. Roger's story arc was limited to his unsuccessful efforts to win Henrietta's হৃদয় and deal with his knowledge of Paul and Mrs. Hurtle's relationship. Fortunately, "THE WAY WE LIVE NOW" seemed to possess a tighter story than "HE KNEW HE WAS RIGHT". To a certain degree.
But I cannot deny that "THE WAY WE LIVE NOW" was one of the most entertaining adaptations of a Trollope novel I have ever seen. If I must be honest, I enjoyed it আরো than I did "HE KNEW HE WAS RIGHT" অথবা 1982's "THE BARCHESTER CHRONICLES". One of the reasons I enjoyed it so much was due to its portrayal of society's greed and opportunism. I have heard that Trollope had written the novel in protest against the greed and corruption of the 1870s, which resulted in the Long Depression that lasted between 1873 and 1879. The ironic thing is that the economic situation that Trollope believed had permeated British society during the 1870s had been around for a long time and would continue to permeate the world's economic markets time again - including the সাম্প্রতিক downturn that has cast a shadow on today's economies. Trollope's Augustus Melmotte is today's Bernie Madoff অথবা Robert Maxwell.
Another aspect of "THE WAY WE LIVE NOW" is that it revealed the darker aspects of Victorian society on a আরো personal level. I did not know whether to be amused অথবা disgusted দ্বারা the manner in which young British scions such as Sir Felix Carbury scrambled to win the affections of Marie Melmotte and get their hands on her money; অথবা desperate debutantes like Georgiana Longestaffe willing to marry Jewish banker Mr. Brehgert, despite her contempt for his religious beliefs and social position. I doubt that the likes of Georgiana would never contemplate becoming an লেখক of cheesy novels, like Lady Carbury অথবা marrying a man with no funds - like .
Thanks to Davies' screenplay and David Yates' direction, "THE WAY WE LIVE NOW" permeated with a richly dark and comic style that beautifully suited Trollope's tale. Hardly anyone - aside from a few such as Paul Montague, Hetta Carbury and Mr. Brehgert - was spared from the pair's biting portrayal of Trollope's characters. Two of my পছন্দ scenes featured a ball held দ্বারা the Melmottes in Episode One and a banquet in honor of the Chinese Emperor in Episode Three. The banquet scene especially had me on the floor laughing at the sight of British high society members gorging themselves on the dishes prepared দ্বারা Melmotte's cook.
Although "THE WAY WE LIVE NOW" is my পছন্দ Trollope adaptation - so far - I must admit that I had a few problems with it. One, Andrew Davies' portrayal of the Paul Montague character struck me as slightly boring. Like his literary counterpart, Paul found himself torn between his প্রণয় for Hetta and his sexual past with Mrs. Hurtle. But Davies' Paul seemed so . . . noble and stalwart that I found it hard to believe this is the same gutless wonder from Trollope's novel. And if I must be brutally honest, I found his relationship with Hetta Carbury to be another example of a boring romance between two boring young প্রেমী that seemed to permeate Victorian literature. A part of me longed for Paul to end up with Winifred Hurtle. At least he would have found himself in a আরো interesting romance. I have one আরো quibble. In a scene featuring a major quarrel between Melmotte and his daughter Marie, there was a point where both were in each other's faces . . . growling like animals. Growling? Really? Was that necessary? Because I do not think it was.
One would think I have a problem with Cillian Murphy and Paloma Baeza's performances as Paul Montague and Hetta Carbury. Trust me, I did not. I thought both gave solid and competent performances. I feel they were sabotaged দ্বারা Trollope's portrayal of their characters as "the young lovers" and Davies' unwillingness to put some zing into their romance. Miranda Otto made a very interesting Mrs. Hurtle, despite her bad attempt at a Southern accent. And Allan Corduner and Fenella Woolgar both gave solid performances that I did not find particularly memorable. On the other hand, I felt আরো than impressed দ্বারা Cheryl Campbell as the charming and somewhat manipulative Lady Carbury; Douglas Hodge as the love-sick Roger Carbury; Oliver Ford-Davies as the grasping, yet bigoted Mr. Longestaffe; Helen Schlesinger's funny performance as the clueless Madame Melmotte; a poignant performance from Jim Carter, who portrayed Mr. Brehgert; and Anne-Marie Duff, who managed to create a balance between Georgiana Longstaffe's strong-willed willingness to marry a man of another faith and her self-absorption and bigotry.
However, the three performances that stood head above the others came from David Suchet, Shirley Henderson and Matthew Macfadyen. Suchet could have easily portrayed the scheming and gregarious Augustus Melmotte as a cartoonish character. And there were times when it seemed he was in danger of doing so. But Suchet balanced Melmotte's over-the-top personality with a shrewdness and cynicism that I found appealing - especially when those traits mocked the pretentiousness and hypocrisy of British high society. Shirley Henderson proved to be the perfect person to portray Melmotte's only daughter, Marie. Superficially, she seemed like a chip off the old block. But Henderson injected a great deal of compassion and poignancy into Marie's character, making it very easy for me to sympathize toward her unrequited প্রণয় for Sir Felix Carbury and the heartache she felt upon discovering his lack of প্রণয় for her. Matthew Macfadyen must have finally made a name for himself in his memorable portrayal of the dissolute Sir Felix Carbury. I cannot deny that Macfadyen revealed a good deal of Sir Felix's charm. But the actor made it pretty obvious that his character's charm was at best, superficial. Considering some of the roles he has portrayed over the decade that followed "THE WAY WE LIVE NOW"
, I believe Macfadyen's Sir Felix must have been one of the most self-absorbed characters in his repertoire. And he did a superb job with the role. It is a pity that he never received an অভিনয় nomination অথবা award for his performance.
One cannot talk about "THE WAY WE LIVE NOW"
without pointing out the sumptuous production designs created দ্বারা Gerry Scott. They were superb. With contributions from Diane Dancklefsen and Mark Kebby's art direction, Caroline Smith's set decorations, Chris Seager's ফটোগ্রাফি and Andrea Galer's costume designs; Scott and his team did a wonderful job in re-creating Victorian society in the 1870s. I was especially impressed at how Galer's costumes captured the early years of that decade. I would never call Nicholas Hooper's score particularly memorable. But I cannot deny that it suited both the story's theme and setting.
Although I found a few aspects of "THE WAY WE LIVE NOW"
to complain about - notably the Paul Montague and Hetta Carbury characters. I cannot deny that it is a first-rate production, thanks to Andrew Davies' adaptation, David Yates' direction and a fine cast led দ্বারা David Suchet. আরো importantly, the story's theme of greed and corruption leading to economic chaos was not only relevant to the mid-to-late Victorian era, but also for today's society. "THE WAY WE LIVE NOW"
strike me as a story for all times.