Sunday, 30 October 2016

National Treasure

No, this is not a telling re-examination of the Nicolas Cage/Jerry Bruckheimer film from the early 2000s but a review of the DVD release of the Channel 4 drama National Treasure originally screened in early September starring Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters and Andrea Riseborough.

The drama tells the fictious story of Paul Kingsley (Coltrane) an ageing television comedy legend who has to contend with an accusation of rape from over 20 years previously. Whilst happily married to his wife Mari (Walters), Kingsley has a sexual appetite as depicted by his affairs with prostitutes yet this has never succumbed to under age girls as he is accused of.  Kingsley fears he is being portrayed as Jimmy Saville, the spectre and recent history of Operation Yewtree hovers over this production as a very dark cloud.

This cloud is embellished by the visual hue of the cinematography which is very dark greys and blues with the camera lurking behind corners and doorways not showing us everything fully until a character calls another directly bringing them into eyelines.

Image result for national treasure channel 4

The drama is played with amazing panache by its three leads and is generously helped by key supporting player, Tim McInnery (Blackadder) as Finchley's comedy partner. Andrea Riseborough  as the broken and troubled daughter, Dee who we first meet in a halfway house being threatened with losing custody of her children and having driven her car through the accuser's house, Dee's descent into periods of madness will stay with you.

Yet it is the steady sterling presence of Julie Walters who is the star of the show, a performance of such reach and depth she puts everyone else firmly in her shadow. Her presence as a rock to Paul is very much absent by the series end.

The drama is very of the moment and in years to come may rescind into memory but it is great to see a brave production painting its narrative stars as very much that, a star who uses his talent and influence.

The script by Jack Thorne of Made in England fame had an opportunity to make a statement on star power and celebrity influence instead it singles out the women who accuse celebrities as hungry for fame themselves and to quote Mari, end up destroyed in the witness box and hard to believe.

National Treasure is released on Home Entertainment on Monday 31st October.

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