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Academy-award-winning actor Jim Broadbent portrays controversial British campaigner Lord Longford in this biopic that details the former government minister and then-House of Lords leader's notorious encounter with infamous Moors Murderer Myra Hindley (Samantha Morton). A lifelong Christian who approaches every person he meets with the goodness and innocence of a child, Frank Packenham (aka Lord Longford) receives a letter from convicted child killer Myra Hindley requesting that he drop by her prison cell for a visit. Despite the vehement disapproval of his wife, Longford casually accepts the invitation and forms an unexpected bond with the woman due in large to their mutual Catholic upbringing. When his established notions about Hindley are challenged during a subsequent visit with her demonically manipulative partner-in-crime Ian Brady (Andy Serkis), the humble social campaigner finds his faith put to the ultimate test as public outcry mounts as a direct result of his meeting with the despised couple. … More
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Critic Reviews for Longford
The dramatic conflict is clearly enough etched and provides a sufficient feast of acting for this to work offshore as a specialist, upscale item.
This thought-provoking exploration of forgiveness and redemption features award-worthy performance by Jim Broadbent and Samantha Morton.
Though thematically similar to Dead Man Walking, Longford grapples more directly and thoughtfully with religious themes, and doesn't glorify its eccentric, somewhat tragic protagonist.
Audience Reviews for Longford
Decent, but slow, biodrama about the efforts of Lord Longford to help men and women while they're in, and being released from, prison. This story is depicting his counseling, and attempting to help, a convicted child murderer. A VERY controversial move on his part. Well done film, complete with interviews in the extras section. This was just a little lackluster for my tastes...More
I picked this movie out of the $2.00 Bin at Big Lots, Best Movie I ever got from a $2.00 Bin. The Myra Hindley/Ian Brady Moors murders of 1963, one of the most heinous crimes in England since Jack the Ripper, has been beautifully transcribed to the screen by writer Peter Morgan and Director Tom Hooper. And though the story is basically about Longford's relationship with the incarcerated Myra Hindley, the film paints a rather complete portrait of a strange man who vacillated during his lifetime among religious beliefs and spoke out strongly for the rights of prisoners and 'unfortunates' who fall out of line with the law all the while riling against pornography and other vices.
Jim Broadbent creates a wholly credible Lord Longford in this amazing performance. Transformed physically to resemble Longford's bizarre appearance, Broadbent manages to convey the spectrum of trust, self-doubt, pity, outrage, compassion and blind religious belief in a manner few actors could match. The remainder of the cast is equally excellent: Samantha Morton finds every nook and cranny of the enigmatic murderess Myra while Andy Serkis gives a chilling depiction of Ian Brady, her accomplice who knew how to manipulate the government and people as well as the infamously wily Myra.
The story is in many ways grounded by the strong forces of Lady Longford (beautifully realized by Lindsay Duncan) and the Lady Tree of Sarah Crowden and Harold Wilson of Robert Pugh. Hooper knows how to magnify the class differences between the gentry and the working class and his choices of locations and pacing of confrontations both in the prison and in the home and in the court are spot on.
This is one of those films for television that teaches us what really fine films can still be. It is a tremendously moving piece of work and Jim Broadbent will long be remember for this classic role. Highly recommended for repeated viewing. Grady Harp 5 Stars 1-11-13
[font=Century Gothic]In "Longford," Frank Longford(Jim Broadbent), the leader of the House of Lords, has taken up the cause of visiting prisoners in jail, while seeking their rehabilitation and release. In 1967, Myra Hindley(Samantha Morton), who along with her lover, Ian Brady(Andy Serkis), was convicted of the murder of several children, contacts him and asks him to visit her. This time, Frank's usually supportive wife(Lindsay Duncan) balks at his taking up her case but this does not stop him. When Frank goes to the prison to meet Myra, he finds a much different woman then he was expecting. And her claim to return to the Catholic Church strikes a nerve with the devout politician and he has hope that she can be paroled. But Brady has a much different opinion of Myra...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Inspired by real events, "Longford" is an incisive movie that contains great performances from Broadbent and Morton. Considering the subject matter, it thankfully does not take after "Silence of the Lambs." While pointing out that Longford will always be remembered for this one case, it is ironic that it is also the only part of his life that is truly covered in the movie.(Well, outside of a silly anti-pornography crusade.) The movie could have been longer and given more depth to other facets of Longford's life. [/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Frank cites his reason for converting to Catholicism is the world not making sense without an afterlife but most of his energy is based on concerns in the material world. He cares more about the prisoners' welfare and release than their salvation. The changes in his own life cause him to believe that others can change, even criminals.(How refreshing it is to see a politician with courage.) I do think it is important to care about the welfare of prisoners and that they be treated humanely because it is so very easy to demonize criminals in this society(especially in heinous cases).[/font]
In one of the opening scenes of Longford, Frank Pakenham (Lord Longford) says he wrote the book on Saints as it gave him a chance to talk about his heroes. In much the same way he is one of my heroes. I was unaware of his existence prior to watching this film. Jogging daily into your nineties as you feel it is beneficial mentally and physically, his desire to fight "the good fight" regardless of ridicule and torment, the type of politician he was, not just believing but knowing that nobody is beyond forgiveness and recompense, his strength of belief, always attempting to overcome his own mental weaknesses and better himself, and to consider that not only the prisoner but that he is benefiting from prison visits - the 7th Lord of Longford from visiting criminals - not ever considering that to be degrading but enriching and that there was nothing exceptional about what he was doing. Some men seek to better themselves in the gym, classroom or battlefields. Thus many heroes are strong mentally or physically - a champion. For me Frank is a champion of spirit and of the soul. A great man and as just and worthy a hero as any of the others.
The movie covers Longford's life prior to and after one specific event. His meeting with one particular female prisoner, Myra Hindley. Two polar opposites' paths cross and the lives of all concerned will be changed forever. Tom Hooper (Director) has told the story masterfully. The archival footage at the beginning brings the viewer up to speed quickly. These are interwoven with shots of the Moors in a certain light and established mood.
His switching between freehand use of the camera and use of a tripod enhances the feeling of being inside or outside of prison. Free camera; free-dom. Tripod; captive shot - prison. At other times the free camera style adds to the "fly on the wall" feel of scenes.
Jim Broadbent is incredible as Lord Longford and makes every movement and gesture in character. For me he was a revelation, made the film and thoroughly deserved his BAFTA, Golden Globe and 2007 Emmy nomination for the part. Broadbent went through daily make-up routines, had his head shaves, wore a false nose and chin and adopted as close a copy of Lord Longford's voice as possible. His part was kept as historically accurate as possible; which was a stark contrast to that of Myra Hindley.
Hooper clearly made a conscious choice when it came to the decision over who should act the part of Myra Hindley. Samantha Morton (Control) was not the obvious choice. Her portrayal of Myra is without doubt softer and more feminine than the real deal. I feel that with a larger, stronger, heavier-set and voiced Myra, the events to come would be more obvious and have less impact. The switch in character carries impact and that is required (amongst other things) for the viewer to connect on an emotional level with Frank. So, Hooper has accepted a slip on accuracy for the film to carry more power. He must have considered this a necessary and essential deficit in order for the film as a whole to work and succeed.
Andy Serkis played Ian Brady in Longford. He came to fame as Gollem (Lord of the Rings), continued his success as King Kong and this time round is not covered by a CGI image but completely visible. I feel he is a unique and underrated actor of serious talent. His Glaswegian accent is excellent (considering he's a Cockney) and his performance is as disturbing as you would expect portraying a psychopathic serial child-murderer.
These three main actors were backed by a great supporting cast. Lindsay Duncan (Lady Longford) was first rate, as was Kika Markham (Governor Wing). Although I feel Robert Pugh as Harold Wilson (Prime Minister at the time) was a little weak.
The contrast between the two main characters is fascinating throughout the 93 minutes. We have a politician who is a devout Catholic discussing various topics with a female serial child-killer. In many scenes of Myra she is in clean rooms, surrounded by crucifixes, in search of Catholicism. In shots of Frank he is scurrying around in dirty sex shops in search of pornography and anal stimulators. A very intriguing contrast in characters. Further contrast is seen if you consider why they are pursuing these very different set of actions. Frank feels pornography is too readily available and can influence the fragile minds of the youth of today. Myra is sourcing her own kind of mental influencing... or is she?
The movie is a controversial one. Not only because depicts two of the biggest outcasts our country has seen in modern history, but also because it poses some very difficult questions. Why is society further outraged by murder at the hands of a woman than a man? And are some people beyond forgiveness?
I find Longford an exciting and challenging movie full of feeling and largely thought provoking. One part that really hits me is towards the end when he finally answers the question concerning if he regrets getting involved with Myra and his crusade to free her. After saying that he doesn't he goes on to say "The struggle to deepen my faith is my life's journey. In that respect she has enriched my spiritual life beyond measure.". Is there any limit to this mans ability to see the good in people?
For me this movie doesn't deserve a 5/5 but it's not far off. It's a personal favourite of mine and I would recommend it to most adults. I think it's underrated, overlooked, should be readily available on DVD and more mainstream than it is. I consider Longford to be a considerable achievement that I find hugely insightful.
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