I just finished watching The Night Manager and of the many things that I can say in praise of it, the thing that struck me most was how it had Le Carre fingerprints all over it. If I hadn’t known it was based on a book of his, I’d probably have suspected it. Why? Because he writes spy-thrillers that have two recognisable features; they have huge casts of characters and they have slow burn drama.
Now, I’m not a Le Carre devotee. I’ve read a few and seen probably all the TV and film adaptations, but I think the above is a fair observation. All his works seem to tell stories that spread over time and places and they don’t rush to get anywhere, but that doesn’t mean they feel slow. They just aren’t the never ending action sequences of a James Bond.
Mostly, they’re also about people. Real people. Flawed and ordinary despite the fact they do this extraordinary espionage work. Even in The Night Manager, where you are in the world of the super-rich, there’s a lot of normal behaviours. Some not so normal too.
I’m keen to read the book of The Night Manager after seeing the TV mini-series. Despite the kind of changes I’m sure they made to bring it to the screen, you can see the bones of excellent characters and an excellent story. Which is no doubt why it got the royal treatment of a mini-series instead of the ordinary treatment of trying to make a film out of material that needs time to do its thing.
On the TV series… I was so impressed with it. From the wonderful, Bond-film-esque, opening titles to a dream cast it was a pleasure to watch. Not perfect (what is?), but pretty damn close.