Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Not the best ever...

I just watched a new version of The Witness For the Prosecution made by the BBC in 2016...and it's nothing like the play or movie adaptations. Apparently they went back to the original story and then completely re-imagined it into a 21st Century morality...or lack ways that diminished it.

Setting it a few years after the end of WWI, the focus of the story is on John Mahew, the solicitor who's more of an ambulance chaser, lost his only son in the war and has a troubled marriage. Leonard Vole has been arrested for the murder of wealthy Emily French, and his only alibi is his Austrian wife...which doesn't count for much, until it turns out she's not really his wife. And winds up being called to testify on behalf of the prosecution in his murder trial.

The acting was good, as were the cinematography, sets, and costumes. Very sumptuously produced. But the director had no idea of what he wanted. On far too many occasions, it looked like he shot everything he could think of and then built the film in post. Didn't help that Sara Phelps' script fired like a shotgun instead of a sniper rifle; it was trying to hit every target on the range and wound up missing most.

What I found fascinating was how they made the murder victim a middle-aged predator of young men, like a black widow who lured Leonard into her snare. I dislike the subtle suggestion that it's her own damn fault she got killed. They also made Romaine (who was Christine in the films and play) less in control of herself and added in a hint of lesbianism, a la Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca, that was just wrong for the story.

Reality is, this script could have been cut by 20 minutes, easily, and lost nothing. After the lovely job done on the new version of And Then There Were None, this is a real disappointment. And enlightening as to the need for focus, clarity, and above all, awareness as to what you're trying to say.

Not worth a second look.

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