Any Human Heart, the new mini-series that will be shown on Masterpiece Classic for the next three Sundays, features a variety of actors who have starred in Jane Austen film adaptations.Tom Hollander's role as the Duke of Windsor comes at a propitious time for viewers who have seen (or who intend to see) The King's Speech. In this mini-series he is shown after his abdication as King Edward VIII, and he plays the former king as a petty, self-centered, and self-serving man. While I think he was perfect for the part of David, I had a small problem with his casting as Mr. Collins. Oh, he played that part to a tee and his proposal to Lizzy Bennet was unforgettable, but Jane Austen described Mr. Collins as tall, which Mr. Holland most certainly is not. However, his lack of height added comic relief to his dance scenes with Keira Knightley's Elizabeth, and so I have decided in the future to overlook this casting faux pas.
The man with the deep sexy voice, as I think of Matthew, gave Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy a run for his money. Many young fans prefer Matthew's interpretation as the iconic Jane Austen hero. I, for one, like them both. As Logan Mountstuart, Matthew once again delivers a shaded performance. While I could not like his character (who can respect a man who abandons a son for his lover?), Matthew's sensitive portrayal of Mounstuart tugged at my heartstrings.
Haley Atwell looks absolutely stunning in 1930's costume. Jane Austen fans will recall her portrayal of Mary Crawford in the unfortunate 2007 version of Mansfield Park. I say unfortunate, for I found that particular film adaptation particularly lacking (especially Billy Piper tomboyish representation of Fanny). I did, however, like Haley, who was perfect for the part of the sophisticated woman that Fanny Price could not like. Unfortunately, Haley's lines were few and far between, largely because the film was too short. Thankfully, she is given a much larger role in Any Human Heart as Matthew MacFadyen's love interest. When those two actors are together, magic happens onscreen.
Any Human Heart revolves around the character of the older Logan Mountstuart, played by Jim Broadbent, one of my favorite character actors. Jim's connection to Jane Austen is peripheral. He portrayed Bridget Jones's father and has acted opposite a score of actors who starred in Jane Austen film adaptations. I have always thought that he would make an excellent Mr. Woodhouse or Mr. Bennet, but I doubt we will see another version of Emma or Pride and Prejudice soon. Any film that features Mr. Broadbent is worth watching, and his role, while largely quiet, is extensive and he appears in all the episodes from start to finish.
Charity had the unenviable task of following Kate Winslet in playing Marianne Dashwood, the histrionic sister, in the 2008 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. While she is not classically beautiful, the camera's lens loves Charity's large eyes and dramatic features. She also looks fabulous in a classic 20's bob. Charity appears in only one episode of Any Human Heart, but her character is important in forcing Logan to think more seriously about his writing career and giving him his first major heartbreak.
|as Logan Mountstuart in Any Human Heart
|as Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice 2005
|Haley Atwell as Freya Deverell
|as Mary Crawford, Mansfield Park 2007
|as an older Logan Mountstuart
|as Colin Jones (with Gemma Jones and Renee Zelwegger) in Bridget Jones's Diary
|as Land Forthergill
|as Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, 2008
|as the Duke of Windsor after his abdication as King Edward VIII
|as Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice, 2005
|Samuel West as Peter Scabius
|Samuel West as William Elliot in Persuasion 1996
PBS Masterpiece Classic will feature Any Human Heart on February 13, 20 & 27, 2011 at 9pm. Click here for details.
On a different note, I urge anyone who is as addicted to PBS as I am, to contact your representatives and request them not to cut their funding.