It's a great little movie that is expertly paced and directed by Tom Hooper. It's also performed with more grace and naturalism than I've seen in a while from the likes of Andy Serkis, Samantha Morton, and, as always, the great Jim Broadbent.
BIO-DRAMA/ PSYCOLOGICAL DRAMA
Movie made for HBO starring Ed Brodbent as Lord Longford who was an actual person from the "House of the Lords" who ignited England when he decided to do a controversial act, and that was to defend one of England's most hated persons at the time for a chance of parole. Her name is Myra Hindley (excellently played by Samantha Morton) who was involved in a heinous crime back in the 60's- both her and her spouse Ian Brady. And although the film does not excuse her for her crimes, it does however examines Lord Longford's motivation as a subject matter about his reasons for doing it, as well as an examination of British laws. The other thing that is memorable are the acting by it's entire cast, for it's nice to see Andy Serkis as Ian in his true acting form as opposed to what he was best known for playing which is the ape in "Rise Of The Planet of The Apes" and as Gollum from the "Lord Of The Rings" movies which in both cases played CGI characters.
3 out of 4 stars
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
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.
Having recently finished a biography of Hindley I was immediately drawn to this movie. I?m so glad I saw it. Jim Broadbent is truly excellent as the campaigning peer, a performance for which he won a BAFTA award. He plays Longford very much as I imagine he was in life: a na´ve, well-meaning but rather child-like individual, willing to take people at face value; willing to believe, following the tenets if his Catholic faith, that people are ultimately good.
Samantha Morton was also superb as Hindley, a manipulative and calculating woman, one who used Longford, as she used religion, towards her own cynical and self-serving ends. I thought that Andy Serkis was also excellent as a truly malevolent Ian Brady, with whom Hindley carried out the Moors murders in the 1960s, confronting Longford with truths that he clearly was not able to face.
I confess my reading of One of Your Own; the Life and Death of Myra Hindley left me with nothing more than a dislike, a mild contempt for the figure of Lord Longford as a silly, shallow and somewhat stupid old man; a man who collected killers as if he was collecting puppy dogs; man who could not recognise Hindley for what she was.
But Broadbent?s portrayal give deeper dimension to the man, to the importance religion played in forming his ideas and attitudes; it made me understand him just a little more, sympathise just a little more. It also showed just how vulnerable he was, as if no matter his age he really had no proper understanding of life and the traps it lays for the unwary.
He was deceived by Hindley for many years, a deception finally made clear to him when she, under pressure from Brady, finally confesses her part in the murder of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett. In perhaps the most telling scene of all we see Longford listen to a tape sent to him anonymously, of the torture of Lesley Anne Downie, in which Hindley?s voice can be clearly heard, only her voice; the real tape is still too horrifying to broadcast. He listens with a look of despair. Still, in the end, his faith was only deepened by the test he had faced.
Longford is an excellent movie, one of the best TV productions I have seen.
Channel4, October 2006