March 24, 2008

WHO KNEW QUAINT WAS A NEGATIVE?:

Truly No. 1: Why the Ladies' Detective agency has renewed my faith in television (MAX HASTINGS, 25th March 2008, Daily Mail)

One of the most delightful offerings to appear on our television screens over Easter, indeed for many a long day, was Anthony Minghella's BBC1 film of Alexander McCall Smith's bestseller, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

It concerns one of the more unexpected heroines of modern fiction, a wildly overweight African woman named Precious Ramotswe.

And at every turn of Sunday night's story - as she confronted wrongdoers amid the glorious landscape of Botswana - one braced oneself for TV's usual climaxes of torture, mayhem or mere commonplace massacre.

But nothing like that happened. The baddies were put to flight or sent to jail, harmony was restored and everybody celebrated with a sing-song.

The critics hated it. One called it "twee, quaint, shallow, possibly patronising . . . saccharine gloop . . . set in an African country where smiley, happy people, cardboard cut-out characters, go about their business with good humour, hard work, morality and diligence. . . It has no passion, no depth, no edge, no nothing".

But this, it seems to me, says much more about our ghastly current cinematic expectations than about the Ladies' Detective Agency.


Posted by Orrin Judd at March 24, 2008 8:04 PM
Comments

"characters, go about their business with good humour, hard work, morality and diligence. . . "

It says a heck of a lot about the critics that showing people doing the things people normally do is appalling to them.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 25, 2008 9:48 AM
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