January 2011: The Arab Spring.
BBC1 new series The Night Manager with Tom Hiddleston and former Dr House Hugh Laurie starts exactly here, in El Cairo.
Between cars torched, firecrackers going off, bricks thrown, guns fired in the air,… the camera follows an Englishman less pale than usual in a blue shirt. He walks through it all, but he doesn’t care, he is not scared; or rather, he seems even thrilled; we don’t know yet that actually he has seen worse when he was a soldier in Iraq.
Where is he going? To the grand hotel where he works as night-manager.
Who better than the lady-killer Tom Hiddleston to portrait our Nefertiti Hotel night manager?
But Jonathan Pine, is actually just a simple night manager; or there is more….much more?!?!
We ask it to us quite immediatly; because Jonathan Pine is too…too everything actually: too polite, too brave, too confident….we can say also too charming?!?!
Not enough time to think about it because we are soon driven in the heart of the story: a beautiful local woman, Sophie, a special host of the hotel, gives to our Mr Pine secret documents trusting him probably for the same reason here in London people adore him: because you can see all his caring in those deep green eyes. The documents are about her wicked boyfriend Freddie Hamid buying weapons from who she called “the worst man in the world”, a certain Richard Roper.
When Sophie is murded we jumped home, in London, where a secret agent, Angela Burr runs a private intelligence agency that operates separately from MI6. She has just one goal: to take down Richard Roper, but we have to wait till episode 4 to understand why she bears this deep grudge.
From here it’s a succession of surprises that can make The Night Manager easily to compete with all the lasts James Bond‘s movies.
Based on espionage novel by John Le Carré, published in 1993 (obviously he didn’t use the 2011 Arab Spring), The Night Manager is written by Le Carré himself and David Farr who had to work on another huge alteration: Olivia Colman (who portraits Angela Burr) pregnancy…that couldn’t have happened in the novel as there, agent Burr is actually a he called Leonard. Not only: Pine’s previous tours of Iraq instead of Northern Ireland is for sure more abreast with the times; and Zermatt is cooler than Zurich on the screen.
And all these changes work pretty much well…Pine is now ready to show his dark side between a tennis game, a good swim and a early morning run between wind and water….nothing unusual for Tom Hiddleston, well, save for the sea river…he is most a hill type for his early morning trainings.
What else?!?! Hugh Laurie is the best-worst man ever; Alistair Petrie is perfect in his “I’m with the bad guys but I’m not so bad” role; Tom Hollander is simply divine as the suspicious alcoholic Roper‘s right hand Corky; Elizabeth Debicki is just a heavenly presence; while the young Noah Jupe is so sweetly perfect that we can not imagine something else if not a great future for this beautiful and talented kid.
“When a continent enters into chaos, that’s when opportunities open up.”