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It's hard to watch, and more essential viewing for it; the three-parter takes place from an enslaved woman's point of view, and it looks straight at the violence, sadism, and moral depravity of the British plantation owners.
It's the rare streaming-era show that doesn't feel padded for binge viewing. And all three lead performances, especially Lawrance's, are world class. All told, it's a very good miniseries that should have been great.
As acted by Lawrance and written by Levy and Williams, however, July is also wry, funny and delightfully rude. She is, despite the best efforts of the white people constantly dismissing her as collateral, a full human worthy of starring in her own story.
The tone is strangely mischievous, which doesn't mean it lacks heart; it's just packed with a touching, dreamlike poignancy.
A beautiful, moving, horrifying adaptation of her unsimple tale, that honours the source and its subject.
The Long Song refuses to be a conventional period drama, pushing back against one-dimensional portrayals of the enslaved, whilst also never letting the masters of the system off the hook.
What begins as a dangerous attraction evolves into a twisted triangle, further complicated by labor unrest on the sugar plantation ironically named Amity.
It's worth tuning in for Lawrance alone and the episode teaser promised that the arrival of a new plantation overseer might offer a little more light and shade in the story-telling. The subject deserves it.
Within it, though, are some riveting tangles: all the dispossessions, acquirements and, latterly, invigorating exchanges of postcolonial drama.
Audience Reviews for The Long Song: Series 1
Feb 21, 2021I give it five full stars for the great acting, especially Tamara Lawrance. You can't take your eyes off her. What a wonderful moving performance by Lawrance, unforgettable. Hayley Atwell plays the selfish and shallow mistress with a comedic touch. She also gives a great performance, and the two of them together are a treat to see. And Jack Lowden renders a horrifying portrayal of the weak minded "master." But even aside from that magnificent acting, the story, the other actors, the exotic setting - all contribute to an excellent but saddening show. The evils of slavery are evident throughout. And heartbreaking.
Feb 01, 2021Could have been so great. Whatever happened to the notion that less is more? So many of these furious revisionist period dramas are so shrill and seething with vengeance and rage that the characters are drawn in a completely binary fashion of pure good vs. pure evil--like all those superhero films--which I thought we all understood is FANTASY, not reality. In The Long Song it plays itself out with all white women (and some white men) characterized as vulgar, cruel, mindlessly sadistic, punitive, avaricious, stupid, brutal, fiendish, spoiled, gibbering, petty, neurotic, shrill, brutal, and ridiculously silly--while Black people are characterized as near saints--kind, intelligent, sensitive, compassionate, thoughtful, reflective, grounded, realistic, canny, wise, humorous, nuanced, and multifacted. As said: humankind is not constructed like that. Neither individuals--not groups of people--are All Heroic vs. All Villains. It's not realistic, regarding any race nor any time period in history. Don't most people (aside from professional critics) see how manipulative, artless, and dishonest this kind of show ends up being? Makes me so sad, because realistically rendered history, realistically told stories of whole human beings--who are now as ever, always complex, surprising, fallible, and contradictory--set in any time period are so much more interesting and enriching to watch.