Review: The Way We Live Now (2001)

The Way We Live Now (2001)

Directed by: David Yates | 300 minutes | drama | Actors: David Suchet, Matthew MacFadyen, Paloma Baeza, Cillian Murphy, Shirley Henderson, Cheryl Campbell, Miranda Otto, Douglas Hodge, David Bradley, Tony Britton, Rob Brydon, Alan Corduner, Anne-Marie Duff

London, 1870. Industrialization is in full swing and social conventions are changing rapidly. The old aristocracy has to deal with the so-called new rich, smart businessmen who have climbed the social ladder at a rapid pace. This, of course, gives rise to the necessary frictions.

Against the background of this turbulent period, British writer Anthony Trollope staged his novel “The Way We Live Now”, which can be compared in terms of atmosphere and structure to the well-known stories of Jane Austen, such as ‘Pride & Prejudice’. The main characters are colorful and articulate and not very inclined to conform to their surroundings. Everything expresses the desire to rebel against the dusty and narrow norms and values ​​that were common in the Victorian era. The female characters in particular try to break free from the straitjacket into which their environment has forced them.

As usual with BBC series, ‘The Way We Live Now’ is also a series of particularly high quality. The viewer imagines himself directly in the London of 1870 and is drawn inexorably into the story. Numerous intrigues and storylines then unfold in five hours, all of which are finished very neatly. So no loose ends, but a solid, well put together script.

The acting is also excellent. Matthew MacFadyen (‘Pride & Prejudice’ (2005)) is funny and at times even hilarious as the foppish bonkers Sir Felix Carbury, who has an irresistible attraction to women. David Suchet is nothing short of brilliant as the bully Melmotte. Cillian Murphy is charming as the likeable and righteous Paul Montague. A different kind of role than the villain roles he plays in ‘Batman Begins’ (2005) and ‘Red Eye’ (2005) and many people will hardly recognize him.
Despite these strong male roles, the best-developed characters in ‘The Way We Live Now’ are without exception women: Hetta Carbury (Paloma Baeza), Winifred Hurtle (Miranda Otto) and Marie Melmotte (Shirley Henderson). They are the ones who dare to take the most risks, go against the prevailing conventions and make the greatest developments.

‘The Way We Live Now’ is a fresh and sparkling costume drama, interspersed with witty dialogues. A pleasure for the eye and for the mind. May there be many more such series to follow!

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