The Way We Live Now
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The Way We Live Now captures the turmoil as the old order is swept aside by the brash new forces of business and finance. Based on the novel by Anthony Trollope, this satire of Victorian society contains the trials and tribulations of young love, the pettiness of the upper class life, the raw energy and excitement of the most powerful city the world had ever seen, and the greed and corruption that lay just below its glittering surface.
First screened on BBC in 2001, The Way We Live Now will surprise those who know Anthony Trollope through the subtleties of his Barsetshire novels. This story of ambition centers around Augustus Melmotte, an Austrian Jewish financier who takes the London money markets and social scene by storm in his efforts to become an "English country gentleman." His rise and fall is followed with remorseless logic by Trollope, and David Yates's direction keeps this in focus against a wealth of subplots and character interaction.
The cast is a strong one, with David Suchet's Melmotte gripping in his recklessness, climaxing in the theatrical magnificence of his departure in disgrace from the House of Commons. Shirley Henderson is magnetic as his put-upon daughter Marie, courted by the cream-of-society bachelors for her dowry rather than her person. Cheryl Campbell gives a good account of the feckless Lady Carbury, writing vacuous novels to support her family, with Matthew MacFadyen relishing the part of her rakish son, Felix. Paloma Baeza is sympathetic as her daughter, Hetta, whose on-off relationship with entrepreneur Paul Montague, ably taken by Cillian Murphy, provides the main love interest. Douglas Hodge impresses as the loyal and sincere but insipid Roger Carbury.
The series consists of four generous episodes, each lasting 75 minutes. This is an absorbing production of what isn't the most subtle of Victorian novels, but which surely remains among the most relevant. --Richard Whitehouse
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I've never seen Matthew McFayden in the role of a fop before, no conscience in draining his widowed mother of her money for his gambling. It is a dramatic story with lots of low key humor and irony.
Still there's some tenderness connected with the drama and darkness which leaves a bittersweet taste when all is said and done.
Great performances, great costumes, settings...and it hints at the kind of inspired director behind this mini-series who would go on to do multiple Harry Potter films later on, complete with several actors from this series (the actress who plays Moaning Myrtle plays a prominent role and Filch also shows up!)
The performances of David Suchet and Shirley Henderson alone make this a wonderful 'watch'.