Posts Tagged ‘Lindsay Duncan’

Miss Marple (Julia McKenzie) and Dolly Bantry(Joanna Lumley)

Last Sunday, Miss Marple made a grand fifth season entrance for PBS Masterpiece Mystery! with its latest episode, The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side. If you missed the episode, it is available online at this link until June 6th.

Marina (Lindsay Duncan) stares off into space with a look of doom

In this elegant mystery, based on a tragic event in actress Gene Tierney’s life, film star Marina Gregg (Lindsay Duncan) takes up residence at Gossington Hall with her fifth husband, young film director Jason Rudd (Nigel Harman). During a charity garden party, a guest named Heather Badcock (Caroline Quinton) drinks a poisoned cocktail and survives the experience by a mere few seconds. Laid up with a sore ankle, Miss Marple learns from her friend Dolly Bantry (played by the incomparable Joanna Lumley) that Marina was caught staring into space with a look of doom on her face just before poor Heather cocked up her toes.

Marina and husband #5, director Jason Rudd (Nigel Harman)

Enter Inspector Hewitt, whose list of usual suspects includes Marina’s past husbands and entourage of employees, colleagues, and hangers-on, looks for the obvious suspect. An attempt is made on Marina’s life while she is filming a movie, which confirms in Hewitt’s mind that she was the original target for murder, not Heather. Throw in a blackmailer, who is also found dead, and the plot has sufficiently thickened to leave viewers scratching their heads and relying on Miss Marple to make sense of the mayhem.

Inspector Hewitt (Hugh Bonneville, L) and sidekick take a traditional approach to solving a murder

As always, the cast of characters is superb. In addition to Ms. Lumley, Lindsay Duncan (Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Lost in Austen) and High Bonneville (Mr. Bennet in Lost in Austen and Mr. Rushworth in Mansfield Park) also make an appearance. I’ve grown quite accustomed to seeing Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple, and she fits my idea of that dowdy but sharp-eyed sleuth like a well worn glove. (As an aside, I advise that any of Miss Marple’s friends or relatives should steer clear of her, for where ever she goes, death is sure to follow!)

Why is reporter Margot Bence (Charlotte Riley) making life difficult for Marina?

The setting of a small English village and costumes of the late 1950’s, early 1960’s (the book was published in 1962) are superb. I have had the privilege to watch all three new episodes of Miss Marple this season, and while I liked this tale, it is not the best of the three. Perhaps because Mirror was based on a true story, the murder plot seemed a little loose and diffuse. The ending is enigmatic and lacks the satisfying and tidy wrap up of most of Agatha Christie’s plots. And yet I found my hour and a half well spent.

Joanna Lumley as Dolly Bantry

Well done, PBS Masterpiece Mystery! Two more original episodes will be aired (The Secret of Chimneys and The Blue Geranium), including two encore presentations (A Pocketful of Rye and Murder is Easy.) Five Miss Marples in one season! Life can’t get much better than this.

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Warning about this review of the third episode of Lost in Austen: Spoiler Alert! In my defense, I’ve used the language that sits on ITV’s online press centre, which has been placed on the blogosphere for all to see. You can also read a synopsis of Episode Four at that link, and my review of Episode Four here.

Amanda’s zany journey through Pride and Prejudice land continues. The plot twists keeps getting more convoluted, and one wonders if the last episode will have enough time for the unraveling. This film’s visual puns of other JA movie adaptations are fun to spot, such as this one of Miss Austen Regrets.

or the Twisted Version of Pride and Prejudice

Olivia Williams in Miss Austen Regrets

Olivia Williams in Miss Austen Regrets

Mr. Wickham is the most intriguing character in Episode Three, and he’s been given some choice lines which I won’t spoil for you. Let’s just say that he teaches Amanda a few tricks about dress and manners in the regency.

The coguette imperial. Amanda receives instruction in the fine art of being a lady from ...

Practicing the coguette imperial, Amanda receives instruction in the fine art of being a lady from ... Wickham.

... Mr. Wickham, of all people, who instructs her in the art of dress and manners, telling her "Ladies are strangers to the itch."

... Mr. Wickham, who instructs her in the art of dress and manners

Meanwhile at Barton Cottage, Mr. Collins is all a tremble at the thought of having his Jane ...

Meanwhile at Hunsford, Mr. Collins is all a-tremble at the thought of having his Jane ...

Alas,  Jane (Morven Christie), does not quite share the same anticipation. In fact, she’s miserable and spends all of Episode Three moping and looking sad.

Mrs. Collins can only think of the one she lost ...

Mrs. Collins can only think of the man she lost ...

Mr. Bennet is furious with himself for allowing Mr. Collins to wed Jane, and he spends his nights in his study.

Mr. Bennet wallows in unhappiness at allowing Jane's marriage.

Mr. Bennet wallows in unhappiness at allowing Jane to wed Mr. Collins.

The situation at Longourne has become untenable, so Mrs. Bennet and Lydia visit Jane in her new home, bringing her a hostess gift.

Mrs. Bennet brings stilton cheese and loganberries.

A basket of stilton cheese and loganberries.

We finally meet Lady Catherine de Bourgh, delightfully played by Lindsay Duncan. Lady Catherine isn’t fooled by Amanda one bit, and rather enjoys sparring wits with the saucy girl..

Lady Catherine de Bourgh inspects Amanda.

Lady Catherine de Bourgh inspects Amanda up close.

Elliot Cowan plays Mr. Darcy as a straight man. He suspects Amanda of following him and gives her many disapproving looks. Amanda continues to detest him, calling him toxic.

Darcy suspects Amanda of following him.

Darcy suspects Amanda of following him.

Lady Catherine, ever mindful of her ambitions for her daughter Anne, warns Amanda off Mr. Darcy.

Lady Catherine de Bourgh warns Amanda, "You cannot have Fitzwilliam Darcy."

Lady Catherine de Bourgh warns Amanda.

Tom Mison as Bingley is having as miserable a time as Jane. He realizes he still loves her and blames Darcy for influencing him in giving Jane up.

Unhappy about losing Jane, Bingley takes to drinking.

Unhappy about losing Jane, Bingley takes to drinking.

Darcy, observing his friend’s unhappiness, admits he was wrong about Jane. He invites Amanda and the others in the party to Pemberley.

Pemberley (Harewood House)

Harewood House as Pemberley

Amanda's first view of Pemberley

Amanda gets a first glimpse of Pemberley

Thrown together in close proximity, Darcy’s feelings towards Amanda change, but not without an internal struggle. Amanda’s feelings also change as she finds herself equally attracted to man she once detested.

Amanda and Darcy talk.

Amanda and Darcy talk.

She asks him a favor ...

She asks a favor of him ...

She rather likes what she sees ...

And rather likes what she sees ...

… the attraction is mutual.

Darcy declares his feelings towards Amanda. She realizes she’s in love, but her conscience stabs at her: What about Elizabeth? Then, with a mental leap that bounds out of nowhere, she realizes that as Darcy’s wife, “she will have the power to make amends for all that has gone wrong. She can look after Jane, and even buy Longbourn for the Bennet family.”

Huh? This dialogue had me scratching my head. Where did those thoughts come from?

she wants Darcy for herself.

Caroline throws down the gauntlet: she wants her paws on Darcy. Or does she?

Caroline Bingley adds another wrinkle to the mix, and her questions force Darcy to ask Amanda an important question. Her answer results in their break up. Hurt, angry, and disappointed, Amanda rushes to the upper floor of Pemberley, rips up her copy of Pride and Prejudice, and tosses it out the window.

Amanda rips up her copy of Pride and Prejudice

Amanda tosses her ripped copy of Pride and Prejudice

Which Darcy reads.

Darcy reads...

Which she had flung into a fountain.

... a torn wet book that landed in a fountain.

Have you ever tried to read a wet book with the pages out of order? It’s nearly impossible. Never mind. I still laughed during this episode, but it was not nearly as much fun as the previous two. (Too many dark moments, even with Wickham charmingly stealing the show.)

Only one episode remains to be viewed, which does not leave much time to weave the various plot threads together. Darcy follows Amanda into the 21st century where they meet up with Lizzy. Will Darcy fall in love with her? Will Mr. Bennet stop sleeping in his study? Will Mr. Collins finally have his ecstatic moments with Jane? Stay tuned this Wednesday to find out.

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