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Sunday, October 17, 2010

A ROYAL SCANDAL (1996)

An unexpected treat. This BBC production comes hidden as an Extra behind their pointlessly snarky bio-pic about Princess Margaret, THE QUEEN’S SISTER/’05. (Toby Stephens makes a superb Lord Snowdon, but the rest of the film is junk.) SCANDAL, on the other hand, is a pithy delight. A wickedly funny one-hour period piece (late 18th Century) that tells you all you need to know about the marital train wreck that followed the arranged wedding of George, Prince of Wales and Caroline of Brunswick. Not only does this all play out like Masterpiece Theatre meets Black Adder, but it cleaves deliciously close to the ghastly truth. The entire cast are up for this one, allowing the comic horror to unfold without resorting to wink-wink, nudge-nudge or even trying to be funny at all. The more seriously everyone takes their parts, the more appallingly hilarious everything becomes. And what a cast! Susan Lynch, Michael Kitchen, Denis Lawson, Oliver Ford Davies, Ian Richardson as a plummy-voiced narrator; and that great ill-used comic actor, Richard E. Grant. Not since WITHNAIL AND I, all the way back in ‘87, has he been gifted with an opportunity that makes such generous use of his special gifts. (The poor man had Madonna as his director last year. Life just ain't fair.)

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