Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

State of Play

(UK, 2003)

(This is not the 2009 remake with the same title, starring Russell Crowe.) I am tongue-tied, I literally can’t find enough good things to say. How about this: What Lonesome Dove was to westerns, what Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was to espionage, this 6-hour BBC mini-series is to newspaper movies. Think All the President’s Men. It’s better than that. It’s on two DVDs, and I’m pretty sure that, if we’d had Disk Two at hand after we finished watching the first three hour-long episodes one right after the other, we’d have stayed up until 4 AM watching the whole damn thing. The plot is very complex, and just when you think you know something, it turns out not to be true. The script is incredibly sharp and smart. And the acting is all first rate, by a cast of mostly little-known Brits—the biggest name in the credits is the wonderful Bill Nighy. But even better were John Simm (in the part Russell Crowe has in the new version), James McAvoy, and most of all, Kelly MacDonald. Let me tell you, you would not want to be interviewed by her if you had anything at all to hide. She would tear you to ribbons.

I’m pretty sure I’ll rent the DVD of the new version (which has gotten fairly good reviews) to see just how they whittled a 6-hour story down to 2 hours. The cast of the new one is great, with Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, and Robin Wright Penn, but I would bet a large amount of money that it will be a pale imitation.