The Reel Review
Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw (Mary Poppins Returns) star in this adaptation of John Preston’s 2016 novel about former British Liberal Party Leader Jeremy Thorpe, who stood trial in 1979, accused of trying to kill former model Norman Scott, more than a decade after their secret gay love affair.
Whishaw clearly has a gay old time camping it up as the flamboyant, emotionally-unstable, blackmail-minded former boyfriend, and Grant, who dropped a considerable amount of weight and heaps on the makeup to capture Thorpe’s gaunt appearance, is sublime as the politician whose anxiety over Scott grew as his political career blossomed. Although director Stephen Frears (The Queen, Philomena) is dead-on with the details of the bizarre murder plot, he wisely rejects a more straight tell in his three-part miniseries, opting for a more lighthearted, comic approach with clever writing and really fun plot twists. The result is terrific. On a more serious note, the miniseries does provide an interesting, albeit shameful, time capsule of the contemptuous public attitude towards homosexuality that existed just a few decades ago. Poor Bunnies is getting the last laugh now though.
• A Very English Scandal has been nominated for three Golden Globes: for Best TV Movie/Miniseries, Hugh Grant for Best Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries and Ben Winshaw for Best TV Supporting Actor.
• Grant and Winshaw also worked together in 2012’s Cloud Atlas and 2017’s Paddington 2. Stephen Frears directed Grant in 2016’s Florence Foster Jenkins
• Jeremy Thorpe, described by colleagues as funny, friendly, and very clever, died at the age of 85 in 2014 after suffering from Parkinson’s Disease for nearly 30 years. After living in relative obscurity in Ireland for many years, Norman Scott moved to Devon, England in 2018.