My Reel of the Week is 2012's PARADE'S END". It was originally a BBC mini-series (5 Hours) and broadcast on HBO. It is currently out on DVD.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays Christopher Tietjens a high-collar , priviledged nobleman who is trying desperately to hold tight to the attitudes and social mores of an ever changing egalitarian Society. Britain is also tense with the whisperings of WWI.
After a moment of weakness and lack of judgement, Christopher finds himself married to a pregnant Sylvia (Rebecca Hall). Shortly after their marriage she gives birth to a boy who may or may not be Christopher's. because of his sense of duty and principles, Christopher turns a blind eye to Sylvia's manipulations, indiscretions and belittling remarks, determined to fulfill his obligations as a husband and father.
He meets young suffragette Valentine Wannop (Adelaide Clemmons). He
feels the stirrings of a passion he must resist to avoid corrupting his principles and disgracing his family. With both the impending War and the Women's Suffragette Movement looming, Christopher is pushed to either move with changing times or stay hopelessly anchored to the past.
PARADE"S END started a little slow, but by the second hour I was thoroughly engrossed and invested, but I had to keep reminding myself that the timeline was the 1900's to cut down on my shouting of "WTF is wrong with these people".
Rebecca Hall was perfection in the role of Sylvia. I wanted to really hate her for her horrendous treatment of Christopher, but you also saw how insecure and damaged she was.
Adelaide Clemmons as the Suffragette Valentine was a bit young for the role and seemed disconnected from the Era she was portraying. I wasn't convinced she had any real frame of reference to draw on to make her character more alive. She was able to convey the naïveté of a young girl navigating the minefield of first love.
Many people have knocked Benedict Cumberbatch as an actor because he has the been at the apex of that double-edged sword of being the IT person right now. As an actor myself I learn something new from every performance I have seen him in. He is a fearless actor, something I aspire to and envy. He is a chameleon, who allows himself to be vulnerable, which is what we all strive for as actors and is the most difficult part of being an actor,opening yourself fully to each role. In PARADE'S END he was perfectly and frustratingly Christopher Tietjens.
PARADE'S END was moving and romantic & perfect for what I wanted at that moment.