I will hold my hands up and admit I was initially excited about watching the Night Manager purely because I like Tom Hiddleston. That was the first thing I had learnt about the tv series, but my crush on that particular actor wasn’t the driving force behind my urge to watch the series. I then learned Hugh Laurie and Olivia Colman were involved and the excitement level build even further, as I’ve been a fan of both from before the times they both found fame as household names.
What really prompted me to make the effort of actually watching it though was when I learnt that The Night Manager is a novel by John la Carre, and I knew from then on that the series was going to be brilliant because of la Carre’s genius.
I was not disappointed.
I’ve not read the novel the TV series is based on, so I don’t know if it is an entirely faithful adaptation, but even if it isn’t, the series itself is well worth the time investing in watching it. The cinematography is gorgeous; the script is brilliant and will keep you guessing the entire time how the story will end; and the acting is just perfection.
I am a massive fan of Olivia Colman, and in this she is just brilliant. She was easily the best character, and the plot reveal of why she is motivated into committing fully to her job is one of the best scenes in the entire series. It even beats Tom Hollander’s drunken grope of Hiddleston in one of the few moments of comic relief in the series.
The brevity of comic relief is one of the things that makes the series so brilliant; it is drama from start to finish, with the comic relief only coming from moments when it suited the personality of the characters to lighten the mood a bit. There wasn’t a single moment when I was bored either.
All of the characters, not just the main characters were fully formed and you rooted for them all, even the antagonists purely because at no point did you get the impression that even if the antagonists prevailed would you be disappointed. Anyone could win at the end, and you just knew all the way through that it would be stunning to watch unfold.
The premise of the show revolves around Jonathan Pine, a night manager in a plush Cairo hotel, ending up tangled up in the precarious world of Richard Roper, after he is recruited by British Intelligence and Angela Burr’s unwavering determination to bring Roper down no matter what the potential cost. Jonathan commits completely to her plan, leaving even the viewer in doubt of whose side he is really on.
Tom Hiddleston is just utterly brilliant, but no matter how brilliant he was, he can’t be credited alone in why the series worked. Hugh Laurie matched Hiddleston’s brilliance and it was refreshing to see an antagonist played so subtly. There was no ‘ham acting’, just sublime elegance that hid perfectly the rotten core beneath. Tom Hollander as Corcoran was also excellent, and it was great to see him in the role as an antagonist that stretched his acting ability; he was utterly convincing as a villain in a way I’ve not seen from him before.
I’ve already sung the praises of Olivia Colman, but she was not the only female actress to grace the screen. Elizabeth Debicki, Natasha Little and Aure Atika all portrayed powerfully strong women who have also got caught in Roper’s net. From the viewpoint of Roper all of these women were little more than lover’s and wives there to look pretty and keep up appearances; they held no concrete role in his plans, but they all were threatened by him because they had validity enough to potentially betray him.
I’m so glad though that from the audience’s perspective their characters weren’t just there to be props; each of them were motivated by more than the pigeon holes some of the men had put them in. They stood up for what they felt was right, and the tv series demonstrated how little power some women have, because each of them were beaten down, but none of them allowed themselves to be destroyed. It was a wonderfully realistic portrayal of the struggle of women who find themselves at the mercy of others.
I highly recommend that you watch these series; it will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. While it might not have the fast paced and bullet sprayed action of something like James Bond, the subtle storytelling of John la Carre is a spy story of a different calibre. If you’re a fan of adaptations like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, then you will love The Night Manager. If you just want to see some great drama to escape into, then look no further.