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Author Topic: Shardlake reviews  (Read 827 times)

Offline patch

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Shardlake reviews
« on: April 27, 2024, 01:50:15 AM »
Shardlake: murder mysteries don’t get more fantastically creepy than this
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Set in a spooky Tudor monastery, Arthur Hughes and Sean Bean must solve a fateful crime while all the monks seemingly have secret affairs. It’s fun, knowing TV … I just hope you’ve all done A-level history

I have figured out my thing with murder mysteries, after many years of trial and error, and it’s this: stop trying to figure them out. Never once in my murder mystery-watching career – and I was a child raised on Jonathan Creek! I should be good at this! – have I correctly guessed the murderer. Here’s why: you’re not meant to be able to. The whole point about being a storyteller is you’re just making silly tricks up, and that goes triple for a fictional murder mystery.

Every time you pin a murder it can be wiggled out of by a sleight-of-hand of story. “Oh, and by the way this woman you’ve never met before actually saw the whole thing” – mmm, useful, thanks. “There was no murder, they fell” – ah yes, very enjoyable way to spend my Sunday evening. Thanks for nothing. The way to enjoy murder mysteries, I have decided, is to turn your brain off entirely and let the nonsense wash over you. It’s just a story. Stop trying to guess.

Anyway! Shardlake, this week, which is on Disney+ (from 1 May). There’s been a murder, and Matthew Shardlake is trying to figure out how and why, and I suppose you are, too, but you should stop that. It’s the 16th century, Thomas Cromwell (Sean Bean) is really Cromwelling, and something sinister and spooky is happening at a monastery on the coast. Shardlake (Arthur Hughes) is apparently the only lawyer in England and therefore for some reason has been sent to go and figure it out. Anthony Boyle from Masters of the Air goes with him so he’s got someone to talk to. None of the monks trust him, and that includes Paul “Yes, it’s weird he was once Dennis Pennis, and now he’s the go-to guy when you’re making historical fantasy on a large British budget, isn’t it?” Kaye. I hope you don’t like women, because there are absolutely none of them in this. Women were invented the moment Sean Bean’s head fell off.

I am having a lot of fun not solving this one, though. There are multiple reasons for this, starting with the casting. Hughes is superb as the titular lawyer, sometimes nostril-flaringly authoritative and sometimes solemn, sometimes stubborn, sometimes soft, and there are a few scenes where he talks to himself in his room or by a lake that are really good when (in the hands of a weaker writer or actor) they could be terribly, terribly corny.

If anyone from the British TV industry reads this column then do me a big favour and cast him in everything, please. His Holmes-Watson dynamic with Boyle’s rogueish Jack Barak is very enjoyable, and Sean is playing a different flavour of Bean, too: his Cromwell has a cool cruelty to him, a solid core of fanaticism, and he bounces off Hughes from the off. He’s not just saying “Yes boss” and getting his head cut off, though I suppose that will happen in time.

It would be easy for a historical murder procedural that relies on you having at least an A-level-size grasp on Tudor court intrigue to be a bit boring, cerebral-instead-of-enjoyable. Shardlake doesn’t hold your hand through any of the Church of England bits – all I’m saying is a Star Wars-style opening crawl wouldn’t have hurt – but it’s probably better for it. There’s a playfulness beneath all the sincere dialogue-and-dying, and a lot of actors deliver their lines with a knowing smirk. There’s a lot of “I know not of what you speak”, curling fingers while drinking a goblet of wine, being brusque to a sweet, dull boy, flinging laundry at a servant girl, and all the monks are convinced that all the other monks are secretly having affairs, and having playground fights about it.

Everyone who bumps into Shardlake seems to have some peculiar historical beef with him, everyone is constantly taking a big gulp of broth to avoid being cross-questioned, and Shardlake has ludicrously incredible luck when it comes to running into people doing fantastically suspicious things in the dead of night.

I don’t have a clue who’s doing the killing, but that’s not the point any more. This is possibly the greatest compliment I can offer a show right now: I desperately wish they were still making The Trip so Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon could do a whole too-long bit lampooning it. Six minutes of “Master Shardlake … Master Shardlake I suppose you will want to see the HEAD?” over patatas bravas before Rob goes and calls his wife and Steve has a swim in the sea. We used to be a country!

The global environmental crisis continues to escalate, crucial elections are taking place around the world, and wars rage on in Sudan, the Middle East and Ukraine. It is clearer than ever that a free press is vital if we are to know the truth about those in positions of power to swing the pendulum of democracy, freedom and justice.

Next week marks the 31st annual World Press Freedom Day, when we reflect on the threats faced by frontline reporters, as well as the importance of editorial independence on factual reporting.

While Guardian readers have access to journalism that is completely free from financial and political influence, many people around the world are seeing local news organisations gagged, taken over by the state or its allies, or shut down entirely.

At the Guardian, we set our own news agenda, which is informed by the facts – not a billionaire owner or political pressure. And despite the financial challenges facing our industry, we have chosen to keep our reporting open to everyone, because we believe that everyone has a right to the truth about the events shaping the world around them.
https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2024/apr/27/shardlake-sean-bean-arthur-hughes-disney-murder-mysteries-dont-get-more-fantastically-creepy-than-this

Offline patch

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Re: Shardlake reviews
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2024, 03:01:20 AM »
Shardlake review: An atmospheric adaptation, brimming with promise
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After multiple previous attempts to tell the stories either on film or as a series, finally this four-part show arrives on Disney Plus. And, thankfully, it's been worth the wait.

Shardlake follows the titular, fictional Matthew Shardlake (Arthur Hughes), a barrister living with scoliosis in 16th-century England, who has made a name for himself and come under the favour of the powerful real-life figure Thomas Cromwell (Sean Bean).

 Cromwell is currently overseeing the dissolution of the monasteries, and has sent a commissioner to Scarnsea on the south coast of England to try and find a legitimate reason for closure. The commissioner, it turns out, winds up beheaded.

Following this, Cromwell hires Shardlake to go to Scarnsea with another of his employees, the dashing Jack Barak (Anthony Boyle). They are to find the culprit behind the commissioner's murder, and in doing so find a reason to close the monastery.

In so many ways, this set-up says it all - the actual plot of the series is relatively simple (Shardlake and Barak must find a murderer in a monastery) - but it's rich in historical detail, in theological debate and in complex character study.

Speaking of complex characters, you don't get much more layered than Shardlake himself. A thoroughly decent, honourable figure from the moment we meet him, it's clear that we can trust and root for him, but also that he's flawed, riddled by his own self-doubt, and living in a time where his disability makes him an outsider and a victim of prejudice.

All of this plays across Hughes's face in each and every scene, while he still manages to show Shardlake's command of a room, his external confidence in his own intellect and eye for detail. It's a winning central performance, one which marks him out as a leading man on the screen as well as the stage, where he is best known.

One of the most consequential decisions to have been made in the adaptation process is to bring forward the arrival of Shardlake's sidekick-of-sorts Jack Barak. Barak is not in the first Shardlake novel, Dissolution, on which this season is based, but is instead introduced in book two.

It's a choice which has paid off, with the hostile, sparring dynamic between two of the show's most captivating elements proving great to watch throughout. The duo are notably ill-matched - or, you could say, complimentary to one another's strengths - and this leads to not only dramatic tension, but also many of the show's more comedic moments.

Completing the central trio is Sean Bean's Thomas Cromwell, although he plays a lesser role than some might expect, popping up for a handful of admittedly memorable scenes.

That's why you cast an actor of Bean's stature and calibre in the role - with limited screen-time, he quickly marks Cromwell out as a formidable and outsized presence in the lives of not only Shardlake and Barak, but in truth the entirety of the English state and its people.

Perhaps the element of the series which is least successful is the central mystery. While it's engaging as a conceit, and operates well as a mechanism to explore the historical backdrop, there is a lack of intrigue surrounding who the actual culprit is.

Many of the proposed suspects, the monks, are indiscriminately shifty, making the question of who did what rather inert. Without giving away any spoilers, the resolution does little to rectify this.

Still, it's a minor criticism in the face of a whole lot that the series does right, including its runtime. Sticking to four episodes, and not opting to drag it out to six or eight parts as so many series do, it never outstays its welcome, not remotely.
https://www.radiotimes.com/tv/drama/shardlake-disney-plus-review/


Shardlake on Disney+ review: Arthur Hughes is magnetic in this Tudor murder mystery
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It has been 20 years since author CJ Sansom sold the screen rights to his first Shardlake murder mystery, Dissolution. Since then, he’s written eight more novels – six of which feature the investigations of the eponymous Tudor lawyer-slash-detective Matthew Shardlake – and it’s only now that his hero has made it to the screen.

Fortunately for fans of the books, and for historical drama shows in general, Shardlake the show proves worth the wait. This is a tightly-plotted, gorgeously atmospheric piece of television: one that delivers a welcome change of pace from the platform’s previous whimsical jollies of Renegade Nell and The Artful Dodger.

The year is 1537, and Henry VIII is on a mission to dissolve Britain’s ancient – and wealthy – monasteries. He’s given Thomas Cromwell the job, not Mark Rylance – the Cromwell of the Wolf Hall BBC adaptation – this time, but an altogether angrier and more menacing Sean Bean), who calls on the services of lawyer Matthew Shardlake.

Played by Arthur Hughes in his first TV lead role, Shardlake himself is a man of contradictions. An educated man of letters, he is nevertheless treated with suspicion by the local populace thanks to a disability (Hughes has radial dysplasia; Shardlake in the books is described as a “hunchback”) with which he was born.

There are strong performances across the board, particularly the scenery-chomping Bean, but this is Hughes’ show. He imbues Shardlake with a flinty-eyed pragmatism that clashes with the cheeriness of his companion, Jack Barack. He’ll need it: as he digs further into the mystery of the deaths at St Donatus, the mists and marshland upon which the monastery sits seems to close in on him and danger seems to lurk around every murky shadow.
https://www.standard.co.uk/culture/tvfilm/shardlake-disney-review-arthur-hughes-sean-bean-b1153599.html


Shardlake, Disney+, review: Disneyfication of Wolf Hall rival is still solid, intelligent drama
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/2024/04/29/shardlake-disney-review-sean-bean-anthony-boyle-cj-sansom/




'Shardlake' Review: Anthony Boyle Once Again Steals the Show in Tudor-Era Sherlock Tale
https://collider.com/shardlake-tv-series-review/



Shardlake Review: Hulu's Frantic Historical Murder Mystery Is A Missed Opportunity
Hulu's long-awaited adaptation of C.J. Sansom's celebrated book series is never dull, but underdelivers on character, pace, and world-building
https://screenrant.com/shardlake-tv-review/
« Last Edit: April 29, 2024, 01:27:25 PM by patch »

Offline patch

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Re: Shardlake reviews
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2024, 02:59:26 PM »
Shardlake review — this CJ Sansom adaptation is done well, but beware the rack!
Despite only having ten minutes’ screen time, Sean Bean is ruthless as Thomas Cromwell
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It is a brave drama that bags Sean Bean then gives him little more than ten minutes’ screen time. Others might have been tempted to pad out his part in Shardlake, the new adaptation of CJ Sansom’s Tudor murder mystery novels (which arrives on Disney+ tomorrow). I know I would.

But a little Bean goes a long way. His presence as the ruthless Thomas Cromwell, fingers heavy with gold rings, is potent. In any case, Arthur Hughes, the titular star, is a commanding presence on his own.

He plays Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer/detective, a sort of 16th-century Inspector Morse, tasked by Cromwell to investigate the murder of his commissioner at a monastery and also uncover financial impropriety to give Henry VIII the
 
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/shardlake-review-cs-sansom-adaptation-ms6vbgxwj#:~:text=It%20is%20a%20brave%20drama,which%20arrives%20on%20Disney%2B%20tomorrow).






Shardlake Review: A Taut but Superficial Murder Mystery
Despite the intrigue of its nested mysteries, the series barely dips past the surface of its characters’ psyches.
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The most terrifying presence in Scarnsea isn’t even there: Cromwell looms over Shardlake and Barak’s toils, burdening them with the profound weight of the crown’s desires. The chief minister only appears in a few scenes, but we know him fully, immediately, thanks to the barely restrained menace with which Bean plays him. But as Cromwell sends spittle flying, Bean’s shining teeth, far too perfect to grace a 16th-century mouth, are distracting. Taking in their gleaming whiteness, you can’t shake the sense of Shardlake’s superficiality.
https://www.slantmagazine.com/tv/shardlake-review-arthur-hughes-anthony-boyle/





« Last Edit: May 01, 2024, 01:37:28 AM by patch »

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Re: Shardlake reviews
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2024, 01:19:10 AM »
Shardlake review – murderous monks ignite this magnificent CJ Sansom story

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Sean Bean channels his inner-Cromwell in this tale of a loner lawyer investigating a gruesome decapitation at a Tudor monastery. It’s mean, moody – and the perfect tribute to its author who died this week

Really, we should wait until winter has come again. To be watching the dark Tudor adventures of Shardlake in bright warming sunlight under blue skies seems entirely wrong – and even more so with the news that CJ Sansom, the author of the series of novels from which the new series is adapted has just died. The books were made to be read with the curtains closed against the elements and by a roaring fire, and this faithful TV recreation feels no different.

Shardlake is a man made solitary and aware of suffering by his physical disability (he is despised as a “crookback” by society and was prevented from entering the priesthood because he “was not made in God’s image”). He works as a lawyer in the service of Henry VIII via Thomas Cromwell (initially – he survives longer than many of his employers, and indeed sovereigns), just as the dissolution of the monasteries gets under way. Shardlake on screen does not let fans of Sansom down. The show was filmed mainly in Hungary, Austria and Romania and the aesthetics are mean, moody and entirely magnificent. The backdrop, and especially the grandeur of the enormous monastery – an amalgam of the medieval Kreuzenstein Castle outside Vienna and the gothic Hunedoara Castle in Transylvania – where most of the monk-murder-mystery action takes place imparts a sense not just of the scale of Henry’s plans for the country’s religious houses, and religion itself, but the absolute audacity of such an undertaking.

And what of the action? Matthew Shardlake (Arthur Hughes) is withdrawn from his ordinary lawyerly duties and dispatched by Cromwell (Sean Bean, delivering all the goods in the short screen time allocated) to investigate the murder by decapitation of one of his commissioners, who had been sent to the St Donatus monastery in the decaying port town of Scarnsea to begin the process of stripping and selling it for parts. The monks claim he must have been killed by “an invader”. But, as they all look deeply suspicious and every single one has a motive for killing the man sent to disband them, this we do not believe.

Shardlake is accompanied, forcibly, by Cromwell’s henchman Jack Barak (Anthony Boyle, in the kind of sidekick role I suspect we shall not see him in much longer, since the success of his recent roles in Manhunt and Masters of the Air). Barak’s focus is on the undoing of the monastery and the passing of its wealth to the king, while Shardlake has his mind set on the identity of the murderer and justice for the dead man. They butt heads accordingly as the investigation unfolds.

The suspects include, but are not limited to: the abbot himself (Babou Ceesay), who squats like a fat spider at the centre of a web of spiritual and financial corruption; Brother Edwig (David Pearse), the monks’ bursar, though we are assured he was away on business the night of the murder; Brother Mortimus (Brian Vernel), a former soldier with an obvious temper and, possibly, more secrets to hide than most; Brother Jerome (Paul Kaye), a disturbed Carthusian monk to whom the Benedictines are giving temporary succour, and who believes Anne Boleyn was murdered by lies – so clearly no fan of the king or his commissioners; and finally, the as-yet-unidentified hooded figure, who hangs around the church roof and upon whom Shardlake has not yet been able to lay hands.


One person who does seem to have some useful information is the much-abused novice Simon Whelplay (Joe Barber), a “simpleton” (according to his brutal brothers in Christ) who sees and hears more than he should. I don’t think it counts as a spoiler to say that he is soon rendered incapable – by person or persons unknown – of passing on what he knows, so clearly marked for death is he from the moment we see him quivering in fear by a dropped flagon of wine.

The plot unfolds with brisk efficiency, with enough exposition – lightly worn – to keep those who are new to Tudor politics up to speed without ruining it for those who already know their reformists from their recusants, and enough unexpected (to those who do not know the books) twists to keep interest thoroughly piqued throughout. Shardlake is prone to delivering dramatic monologues, when alone in his bedroom, usually as he divests himself of the painful brace he wears to help him manage life with scoliosis. But this is to quibble with an otherwise hugely well-executed and enjoyable (I forgot to mention Peter Firth having a whale of a time as the villainous Duke of Norfolk!) addition to the Tudor drama canon.
https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2024/may/01/shardlake-review-murderous-monks-ignite-this-magnificent-cj-sansom-story


Based on C.J. Sansom’s novel, ‘Shardlake’ sets a murder mystery in Tudor England
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/tv/story/2024-04-30/shardlake-review-cj-sansom-hulu



Shardlake review: Arthur Hughes is a powerful presence – both brittle and resilient
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  Hughes and Boyle fling themselves into their roles with great gusto, chewing up dialogue which is, at times, more waffle than Wolf Hall. While Bean makes fleeting appearances as Cromwell (never quite matching the wiliness of Mark Rylance’s performance in the BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s books),

“Precision is what’s required,” Cromwell tells Shardlake, as he sends him off on this mission. But precision is, in a way, what Shardlake lacks. The premise is excellent and the set-up compelling; the trio of Shardlake, Barak and Cromwell a satisfying guide through the savagery of 16th-century England. But once the murders start and the focus turns to a community tormented by an unknown killer, the show slips into something muddier and more generic. Stabilising the scales between history and mystery is a challenge, then, and one that Shardlake just barely balances.
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/shardlake-disney-cj-sansom-arthur-hughes-b2537251.html


Shardlake review: CJ Sansom’s books deserved better
The late writer's Tudor murder mystery makes for brilliant novels, but feels like a Disney theme park on screen
https://inews.co.uk/culture/television/shardlake-review-cj-sansom-books-deserved-better-3032175


Shardlake: a 'tightly plotted, gorgeously atmospheric piece of television'
https://theweek.com/culture-life/tv-radio/shardlake-review-arthur-hughes-disney




Disney’s Shardlake series is tediously anachronistic
Organic produce, everyday sexism, and cartoonish monks: I can’t take anything in this mist-shrouded adaptation seriously.
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I’m struck that even Sean Bean, lately in his thrilling prime as an actor, seems unable fully to impart any energy in the scenes in which he appears. His menace is pantomimed, a by-product of his velvet robes –though I will admit that I enjoyed it when he showed Shardlake not one, but two, skulls of St Barbara (Cromwell had them on his desk, in the manner of executive toys). Barbara had resisted a man, and so she was martyred – another, quite different approach to sexual harassment. Shardlake considered these relics carefully for a moment, before reaching his conclusion. “A two-headed saint,” he told Cromwell. “No wonder she was a virgin.”
https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/tv/2024/05/disney-shardlake-review-series-is-tediously-anachronistic





« Last Edit: May 01, 2024, 12:53:06 PM by patch »

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Re: Shardlake reviews
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2024, 08:01:16 AM »
Critics Are Saying This ‘Enticing’ New Historical Drama Is Going To Be Your Next Binge-Watch
Shardlake – streaming now on Disney+ – has been described as “eminently watchable”.
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Critics have already praised Shardlake’s gritty historical setting and engaging characters, although some have also highlighted issues with pacing.

Read on to check out the consensus so far…
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/shardlake-reviews-critics-respond-new-drama_uk_66322892e4b0849b2eddb96f


SERIES REVIEW: SHARDLAKE (S1)
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It’s a good story, especially if you enjoy historical crime dramas and this period because there are references to Henry, Anne Boleyn and all manner of famous names. That is the genius of Sansom – he weaves fictional characters among real stories.

What we have here for TV is actually a good, old-fashioned procedural, with Shardlake working the leads and suspects one by one. As I’ve mentioned before, no matter what time period or where in the world it takes place, there’s always a certain momentum and addictiveness to procedurals that make you want to keep watching. This is no different. That it’s bathed in Tudor atmospherics, and set in a time that’s really ripe for storytelling only elevates it even further. It’s very satisfying, and a short, easily digestible series, too.

Hughes is flinty, slightly angry and yet vulnerable as Shardlake, aware of his so-called disability and gulping each time a potential foe tries to take him down a peg because of it. But the Scarnsea case provides him with almost a rite of passage, as well – it opens his eyes to what the Reformation really means, to corruption within the King’s court and his own limitations, both physically and emotionally.

I want to see more of Shardlake, and I hope Disney sees this as an ongoing concern.
https://thekillingtimestv.wordpress.com/2024/05/03/series-review-shardlake-s1/

« Last Edit: May 04, 2024, 09:32:25 AM by patch »