This two part adaptation of the classic novel had promise in the first half, but the second half was brought down by smug self satisfaction. A grizzled smuggler named Elzevir (Ray Winstone) foils Customs & Excise. While John a young orphan (Aneurin Barnard of ‘The White Queen’ and ‘The Facility’) hero worships him. Then a mean magistrate named Mohune comes to town to end the smuggling, John has a religious nut aunt, a crypt is flooded, there are stories of a legendary diamond and John broods in the corners of rooms. Grace the evil magistrate’s daughter is irritating and has no concept of social norms. John is attracted to her for some reason. John also goes swimming naked for some gratuitous arse shots. Then he goes diamond hunting, ineptly. John is annoying, the smugglers are awful and inexact psalms and a rusty locket provide clues and then Mohune meets his end. John is an idiot and people jump off the cliffs of Dorset (actually this was filmed in Kildare).
The drip Grace is an idiot, sneering crone. John’s diamond fever takes him down a 50 fathoms deep well. John has a lack of comprehension of ordinary social interactions. No-one asks how the diamond got down the well in the first place. There are supernatural hints which are never important. Things get chaotic and squalid. John is charmless, cold, sour and superbly irritating. A man in a silly wig mischief makes, people end up in a desolate prison and then on a ship to slave away on sugar plantations. Moral messages are hammered home, a CGI storm blows and Grace unwittingly does something useful. This was okay despite idiot characters and plot holes.
“We are the King’s hammer.”
“Damn them all.”
“Don’t get it shot off.”
“Let him die there.”
“I’ll see you in hell Mohune.”
“Yes, but you shall be there first.”
“There’s not a well in Dorset, let alone Moonfleet that is fourscore deep.”
“I think I’m frightened.”
“Your greed will kill us both.”
“Get yourself a husband and get one quick.”
The Thirteenth Tale (2013)
This BBC2 adaptation of the gothic novel wasn’t that good. Dying famous writer (Vanessa Redgrave) invites hatchet faced biographer Margaret (Olivia Colman of ‘Broadchurch’ and ‘Bad Sugar’) to write her life story. In Vida’s remote house, she tells the misery faced Margaret her tale of her bizarre family, child neglect, terrible twins, decay, men in white coats, an ominous governess, a creepy doctor, incest and death. Margaret is oddly enthralled by this dark and disturbing tale of a household that resembled crazed caged rabid ferrets and spews out her own sob story back-story. Vida responds by telling the rest of her tale of downtrodden seedy lowlifes. It is a tale of insanity, half wits, an over sexed gardener, murder and there is a twist. This wasn’t good at all. How were the authorities so supernaturally indifferent to what was going on up at the big house?
“I can’t abide politeness.”
“No, you don’t.”
“I don’t think we can allow that.”
“She seems impervious to any kind of human emotion.”
“There was a ghost at Angelfield all along.”