2006 - United Kingdom - 93 minutes
Writer - Peter Morgan
Director - Tom Hooper
My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars
HBO has done it again and produced a film of superior quality. The films generally produced by HBO fall into the category of excellent independent movies except with much larger budgets that give them notable stars and superior production values. The DVD's that come from this cable channel are gifts to anyone who enjoys quality motion pictures.
Longford spans about forty years in the life of Frank Pakenham who was the 7th Earl of Longford. Pakenham was a very colorful character. He was basically conservative although one of his causes was examination of the treatment and sentences of criminals. He became notorious in England during the 1960's and 70's by calling for the release of Myra Hindley who - with her sadistic boyfriend - tortured and murdered five children during the years 1963-65.
Pakenham became convinced that Hindley was a basically innocent girl who came under the evil influence of her boyfriend Ian Brady. Pakenham visited Hindley numerous times in prison and convinced her to return to her religion. She totally convinced him that she was regretful of her part in the murders, and he vigorously campaigned for her parole.
All the while, Hindley was communicating with Brady and it soon came to light that she was basically pulling the wool over the eyes of a gullible man - Pakenham.
Disillusioned, Pakenham began to direct his efforts to the Nationwide Festival of Light which was a program of protest against commercial exploitation of sex and violence in Britain. Even though disillusioned, Pakenham stayed in contact with Hindley until his death in 2001.
Giving full credit to the superior production values, it is the acting in Longford that makes it an extreme pleasure.
Jim Broadbent is Lord Longford. I use "is" rather than "plays" because it appears that - from what I can determine - Broadbent so captured the personality and appearance of Longford that he even astounded those connected with the production who knew the real man. Broadbent shows us a man who is definitely a "kook" but one to be admired. He is a man who is so compassionate of his convictions that you cannot not like him even if his opinions are totally counter to your own.
Samantha Morton (nominated for an Emmy for this part) is outstanding as Myra Hindley, a woman who shows a surface of innocence above layers and layers of neurosis and evil. Viewing her interpretation of Hindley is fascinating.
Andy Serkis chills you to the bone as Ian Brady. It appears that Brady has been pretty much of a bad seed his entire life, and Serkis shows us that seed in full bloom. His is a performance not easily forgotten.
Longford is an enthralling character study of an equally enthralling real-life character. It is grand entertainment.
September 19, 2007