Critical Condition: The Little Drummer Girl

The Little Drummer Girl | TVNZ OnDemand, from Monday

☆☆☆☆ “The first thing to say about The Little Drummer Girl is that it isn’t The Night Manager part two. The BBC’s last John le Carré adaptation was slickly contemporary when it aired in 2016 …  A very different atmosphere crackles through Little Drummer Girl, again based on le Carré but set in the original 1979 milieu of the novel. Where The Night Manager was winningly swish, the new six-hour series is a masterclass in slow burn.” — The Telegraph.

☆☆☆☆ “The BBC adaptation is as gripping as the book, taking the viewer into a world of ambiguity, fear, fanatical commitment and moral ambivalence. This is a ‘theatre of the real’, as one protagonist describes it, and so classic le Carré territory. The six-part series conjures it brilliantly.” — The Guardian.

☆☆☆☆ The Little Drummer Girl leads with woozy world-building, so as to inveigle you into the snaky, deception-laden mechanics of its narrative before you’ve fully realised what’s happening. It’s certainly a more successful take on one of le Carré’s most elusive, intricate works than George Roy Hill’s sluggish, miscast 1984 film version … The long format affords more breathing room both for the material’s complex plotting and a singular filmmaker’s languid atmospherics.” — Variety.

☆☆☆ “For its opening two hours at least, Little Drummer Girl delivers surprisingly few thrills and hooks. Though it is more faithful to its source novel than Night Manager, the screenplay by Michael Lesslie and Claire Wilson strips out much of le Carre’s moral and political anguish without adding enough of the sexy thriller elements that made Tom Hiddleston’s buttock-baring spy romp into deluxe pulp television.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

☆☆☆☆ “As the first episode gently unfolds, almost like déjà vu, you feel the familiar presence and nuances of long shots and staging felt in The Night Manager. But with director Park Chan-Wook (Old Boy, The Handmaiden) at the helm, you’re in for a visual treat. At first sight this very BBC drama and its source material seem worlds apart from the brutality and horror of his signature work, but camera work in scenes of note, especially those in episode two, clearly bare the auteur’s stamp.” — Empire.

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