The Five: Crossing The Pond

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC The Five: Crossing The Pond

Praised by Heat magazine as “Sky 1’s finest home-grown drama ever,” The Five may be Harlan Coben’s first UK series, but the American superstar author is in good company when it comes to American heavyweights who’ve crossed the pond to do excellent work. To list a few: Stanley Kubrick relocated for Eyes Wide Shut, Meryl Streep took on Margaret Thatcher, Elizabeth McGovern joined the cast of Downton Abbey, and Tim Burton has assimilated into British culture so smoothly people often forget he’s actually American.

With the imminent release of The Five to Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD July 4th, 2016, what better time to celebrate American rebels that have found success in the UK.

Harlan Coben | The Five (2016)

With the killer combination of Happy Valley, Ordinary Lies and Last Tango In Halifax producer Nicola Schindler, BAFTA and Emmy award-winning writer Danny Brocklehurst (Clocking Off), and international best-selling crime author and creator Harlan Coben, it’s no wonder people can’t get enough of this delightfully chilling series.  Starring Tom Cullen (Downton Abbey, The Trials Of Jimmy Rose), O. T. Fagbenle (Looking, The Interceptor), Sarah Solemani (Him And Her, The Bad Education Movie), Lee Ingleby (The A Word, Detective George Gently) and Geraldine James (Utopia, State Of Play), The Five tells the story of four friends bound together by tragedy all their lives who are suddenly forced to face the past in the most horrifying way possible.  The ten part series is an unmissable maze of twists, turns and dark secrets that has kept viewers glued to their televisions.   It’s safe to say, The Five has solidified Harlan Coben’s successful entry into UK television.

Stanley Kubrick | Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Although Stanley Kubrick first bought the filming rights for this adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler’s 1926 novel Traumnovelle (Dream Story) in the 1960s, the notoriously perfectionist director of legendary films such as The Shining and Dr. Strangelove delayed actually making the film until the 1990s.  Born in the Bronx, Kubrick first moved to England to film Lolita in 1962, and he never left.  Ironically, though Eyes Wide Shut was set in New York, Kubrick insisted on shooting the film in England.  This was due to both his preference for the UK, and also his severe aversion to flying.  Starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Eyes Wide Shut is an erotic drama that follows one night in the life of Dr. Bill Hartford (Cruise) as he explores the masked orgy of an unnamed society after discovering that his wife has been unfaithful to him.  As with much of Kubrick’s work, Eyes Wide Shut was a film well ahead of its time.  Though not appropriately appreciated by the public until years later, Kubrick’s final film is now acclaimed as one of the best of the 1990s.

Meryl Streep | The Iron Lady (2011)

The film that garnered Meryl Streep an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for Best Actress, The Iron Lady is a British biopic narrating the controversial reign of the UK’s longest serving Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  Shifting between present day scenes of an elderly Thatcher struggling with dementia, and the prime minister’s own flashbacks of her youth, and eventual ascension to power, the film paints an evocative and human portrait of one of Britain’s most complex leaders.  As supported by the trifecta of awards she merited for her work in this film, Streep’s performance in The Iron Lady is one of her best yet.

Elizabeth McGovern | Downton Abbey (2010- 2015)

Elizabeth McGovern’s first commercial success came early in her career for her Oscar nominated performance as Evelyn Nesbit in the American musical, Ragtime (1981).  A decade later, the Julliard graduate and Illinois native married British film director and producer Simon Curtis, and moved across the pond permanently.  Over the next two decades, McGovern landed numerous smaller roles including frequent BBC TV appearances, but it was only once she assumed the role of Cora Crawley, the kind yet firm American matriarch of the Crawley family of Downton Abbey, that she returned to the spotlight in a big way.  Downtown Abbey is a British and American TV series by ITV and PBS.  The historical drama details the lives and events of the household at Downton Abbey, an English Country-side estate owned by the Crawley family in the post- Edwardian era.  McGovern plays alongside a terrific cast of actors including Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley, and the three Crawley daughters played by Michelle Dockery, Jessica Rose Brown Findlay, and Laura Carmichael.  Other notable characters include the colourful cast of servants that help run the estate including Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt, and Lilly James.  The series has been a smash hit and won both a Golden Globe and an Emmy award for Best Mini-Series.  McGovern’s performance in Downton Abbey brought the 54 year old actress her first Emmy Award nomination, and her first Golden Globe nomination.

Tim Burton | Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) – Alice through the Looking Glass (2016)

Perhaps no American Hollywood figure has assimilated so well into British culture as the prolific actor, producer, writer, and director, Tim Burton.  Despite deep ties to England in both his personal life (Burton recently split from long-time partner and English actress Helena Bonham Carter), and his inclination for British literary giants such as Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis, Burton is in fact from California.  The visionary creator first took up residence in London after uniting with then romantic partner Bonham Carter on the set of Planet of the Apes in 2001. During this time, Burton took on the remaking of a number of quintessentially British stories beginning with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), and Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), followed by Alice in Wonderland (2010), and most recently Alice through the Looking Glass (2016) in which each of these Bonham Carter played a memorable role.  This body of work has been essential in developing Burton’s now iconic style of equally fantastical and horrific storytelling.

Don’t let the list above mislead you.  It’s not just Americans that are doing great work in Britain.  Let us remind you of Indian actress Freida Pinto’s breakout performance in the Academy Award winning British film Slumdog Millionaire (2008); or, Taiwanese- American director Ang Lee’s Academy Award winning films: Sense and Sensibility (1995), and Life of Pi (2012).  Both of which were also shot in England.  Even the famously eccentric Lord of the Rings director, Peter Jackson is toying with the idea of jumping from New Zealand to the UK for a short stint to direct an episode of the BBC’s Dr. Who.  We are beginning to see a pattern here.  And we like it…

Harlan Corben’s The Five comes to Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD from July 4th, 2016, courtesy of STUDIOCANAL

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