Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Hayley Atwell, Rufus Sewell, Michelle Dockery, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Gambon, Thekla Reuten, Adrian Scarborough, Bertie Carvel, Anthony Calf.
In recent years there have been some excellent modern stories which add more light onto the roles of women during World War Two, especially in the world of espionage, one of the greats is Paul Verhoeven’s Dutch masterpiece, Black Book. The B.B.C. has now aired its equivalent in the outstanding first part of Restless starring Hayley Atwell, Michelle Dockery and Charlotte Rampling.
Where Carice Van Houten simmered as Rachel Stein in Black Book as one woman in a cast of men, William Boyd’s Restless made sure that the real stars of the first part were the three women which gave the writing a much more dramatic feel and focused the thoughts of the viewer on what women gave in terms of their lives, during and after the war.
Far from the much loved machismo of usual festive period offerings such as Von Ryan’s Express and The Great Escape, Restless dwelt on the psychological make-up of asking a reluctant Russian woman, Eva Delectorskaya, to work for the British at the onset of war after her brother was murdered by fascists. In the role of the spy stand two great acting icons of different generations, the superb Charlotte Rampling and the incredible talent of Hayley Atwell. It is near impossible to fault Ms. Atwell, in a career that has gone from strength to strength with no sign of form waning, she has become one of the best female actors from these shores and in Restless she again uses this burgeoning capacity to act everyone off the screen, including the male star of the programme Rufus Sewell, who rarely, if ever comes off second best to anyone.
William Boyd should also be lauded for this work. For a writer whose work has included the brilliant Chaplin, the phenomenal Trench and the compelling Any Human Heart, Restless is another jewel in an embarrassment of riches which any scribe would be proud to call their own.
The B.B.C. has certainly aimed their Christmas lights very high this year and it is to be hoped they continue in the same fashion in 2013.
The second part of Restless is on Friday 28th December on B.B.C.
Ian D. Hall