This week, instead of my usual hour of reading I allow myself in the mornings before work, I indulged in an hour of watching The Night Manager with a piping hot mug of coffee and a homemade pumpkin walnut muffin.
I had heard about The Night Manager during the fall of last year and had been trying to find a good time to watch it. It was amazing! I’ve never been much for spy movies, I don’t really care for 007 …it brings out the feminist in me (understand I haven’t seen a ton of them so my feelings are based on 1-2 of the Pierce Brosnan instalments) I just can’t wrap my head around some guy who is so charismatic he ends up bedding most of the women in the movie. It reminds me of the historical John Smith and Pocahontas (** at that time adventure stories were quite popular where the suave European adventurer would go to any exotic and uncharted place and the native women would fall all over him and he would be a conquering leader among the native people…oddly enough John Smith’s own personal diaries took on the same themes**). But while watching the story unfold It seemed evident that this was a profoundly feminist film.
While Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) does his fair share of the usual suave and charismatic European hero gig (I should probably warn about spoilers from here on out) the story begins with the mistress of a powerful arms dealer slipping our hero some incriminating documents regarding her boyfriend’s…professional activities (?). Suffice it to say things don’t end well for the mistress and is what fuels Tom Hiddleston’s character into cooperating with British Intelligence to bring down the main arms dealer (Hugh Laurie). If the story had been told in another way we might see the Mistress (and most if not all of the other women in the film) as an “Eve”/” Pandora” type, being the poison or cause of the downfall of a highly successful regime. However in this story we are rooting for the lawful side of the equation.
It was a woman who initially handed over the incriminating documents, knowing that what was happening was wrong and needed to stop.
It was a woman, a later to be pregnant woman, who grabbed this evidence ran with it, trusted it and fought for its continued attention and pursuit with the lawful and corrupt British intelligence officials.
It was the wife of the (2nd in command?) that gave Pine his first bit of information on the inside and worked with them in the end to bring down Roper even though it meant taking a really big risk.
It was a woman, and estranged mother figure, who was instrumental in getting much needed information and being of strong moral fiber in the face of more than probable death.
There were some plot holes and character flaws. I kind of felt like they took for granted that you would accept that Pine was charismatic and everyone liked him, maybe because Hiddleston was cast and “everyone” (self included) likes him. He was suppose to act like he was one of the big dogs with the arms dealers and he didn’t seem that threatening or dangerous. Maybe this is the caveat you run into when making or watching a series, the momentum gets lost? I felt that way at the end of Sons of Anarchy. Yeah, you knew that was probably how things were going to pan out for the characters but the last episode kind of felt anticlimactic, we speculated that maybe it would have felt better if they had a two hour finale instead of breaking it up.
As for the suave charismatic hero gig, I’d like to attribute that to this quote (obviously I was going to link Harry Potter to this somehow):
“You are protected, in short, by your ability to love!” said Dumbledore loudly. “The only protection that can possibly work against the lure of power like Voldemort’s! In spite of all the temptation you have endured, all the suffering, you remain pure of heart, just as pure as you were at the age of eleven, when you stared into a mirror that reflected your heart’s desire, and it showed you only the way to thwart Lord Voldemort, and not immortality or riches.”
“Amor Vincit Omnia” It is our ability to love and feel empathy for our fellow man that defeats those who desire power, riches and glory at the expense of others. It kind of made me want to take a second look at the 007 instalments to see if I had judged them too harshly in my youth.
And while I’d have more to say on this I don’t want to spoil any more. Go watch it! It’s brilliant! It kept me right on the edge of my seat. I had one episode left and I had to go to work, I kept turning it over in my mind all day…is it going to be like a heist film where they pull a rabbit out of a hat so to speak and outsmart the bad guys? Or is it going to be like a Greek tragedy and everyone dies??? It didn’t disappoint, trust me!