Like everyone else who is too young for the original Les Liaisons Dangereuses, or lived too far away, or could have gone but didn't think of it until too late, I know the play principally through the film version with Glenn Close and John Malkovich, a film version that is very, very good even though it ought to have starred Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan. The play was terrific. Janet McTeer as Merteuil was magnificent, and Dominic West entirely convincing as Valmont. He had received slightly mixed reviews, and on watching the play I thought this both unfair and understandable. He acted the part very well, but the fact is that Dominic West is a tall and broad-chested man who looks like he ought to be wearing a rugby shirt, and though you can put him in a flowered frock-coat he is no-one's mental image of a decadent French aristocrat*. So he has to work past that in every scene, and has an easier job once he takes the coat off for the duel. But his height does work well with McTeer, with the two of them bestriding the stage like colossuses (not a good plural, that one), literally above the puppets they move about. With a strong supporting cast and good direction, I'm only sorry not to have seen it in the theatre.
The Young Montalbano. Perfect Saturday night in January/February fare. I could not love thee dear so much, loved I not Sicily more; and so Livia departs for Genoa and Salvo doesn't, and all they need to do now is break up properly and not torture themselves with an impossible relationship for the next twenty years. Except we know that doesn't happen.
Did the writers mean to write Mimì as in love with Salvo? Because that's what they've ended up doing, certainly with the way it was acted. 'Salvo, why don't you stay? I'd be much happier.' Poor Augello, forever running from his own feelings/Montalbano's rejection into the arms of beautiful women.
Next week we start Icelandic drama Trapped. I anticipate significantly fewer beautiful people, and even less beautiful weather and food.
War and Peace I didn't know that Andrei died! I don't know how I didn't know, as I've read a goodly quantity of the book and am not normally shy of flipping a head to the end - especially when I fail to finish a book - and I spent some of last year reading articles on which translation was best when thinking of giving it another go. Oh, and a long-standing friend is named after him. And yet, I missed it. So I was rather surprised just when I was thinking that we were heading towards a metaphor of how the spirits of old and new Russia could not be reconciled, to find that they were getting married after all.
Despite the odd Andrew Davies moment the adaptation turned out much better than I originally thought, and the last couple of episodes were really very good indeed. It is helped by a terrific central performance by Paul Dano as Pierre, which really held the narrative together (and credit to Davies for structuring it thus). I still can't buy Lily James as Natasha, there's nothing wrong with her performance, but it just doesn't work for me - and she's blonde and it's wrong. The smaller parts were universally perfect. Aisling Loftus as Sonia reminded me why she was my favourite character before I gave up on the book, and Jim Broadbent was brilliantly horrendous. Though despite all the really good bits I'm still baffled as to why on earth you would cut short Natasha and Andrei's waltz to have them roll in the snow. I can't imagine that Russian adults find snow quite as exciting as e.g. British students.
Ski Sunday A slightly dispiriting broadcast from Jeongsang, where the 2018 Winter Olympics venues are being constructed. I want to think positively of the forthcoming games - which is more than I do for for China in 2022 - but it isn't altogether easy. Largely artificial snow, an underwhelming downhill course, I suppose we must wait and see.
*He could be a very good Avon in a TV/film adaptation of These Old Shades, though, since Avon despite his French trappings is English.
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