Lesley Manville he is well versed in playing a brother who is used to playing second fiddle to the main act. Whether it’s slowly sipping a cup of tea as he delivers a withering humiliation to Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) in the ghost thread Or trigger the pain buried for decades princess daisy broken heart in The crownthe veteran actress is a forceful presence.
(Warning: Spoilers ahead for season 5 of The crown.)
Forbidden love is a hot topic in the crown fifth season. It’s certainly not the first time Peter Morgan’s much-talked-about Netflix series has fanned the flames of royal romance and the contentious topic of divorce.
It may all look pretty quaint in 2022 (after all, the new King of England made eventually marry his divorced girlfriend), but when Margaret announced that she would not marry Peter Townsend in 1955, she even made the front page of The New York Times. And when Townsend died in 1995, his obituary it became a summary of the marriage that never was. It is a revised theme in “Annus Horribilis”, probably the best episode of the new Crown lot, allowing Manville to run the challenge from lingering bitterness to the dizzying brilliance of first love.
no matter how you feel The crown, everyone can agree that casting directors Robert Sterne and Nina Gold have struck gold. Margaret’s casting has been especially enthusiastic, beginning with Vanessa Kirby in the first two seasons, then Helena Bonham Carter in the intervening years, and now Manville; between them, they have four Oscar nominations.
Kirby’s portrayal of Margaret’s youthful exuberance, quickly tempered by a fairytale union that ended in a breakup, lays the groundwork for public adoration. Whether singing at the piano with her beloved dad before her death or flirting with a rogue photographer, Margaret’s wild demeanor contrasts with that of her obligated sister.
Of course, he chooses the system over his heart, and when Bonham Carter takes over, he wildly walks away from an amateur sleuth. Uncovering a deep dark family secret., like Jessica Fletcher, to a caftan-wearing mess of drunks. Resentment at being the “spare” (long before Prince Harry) has dissipated, but deep wounds fester.
Enter Manville, whose Margaret is stuck in a honey-lemon tea rut first thing in the morning, before cigarettes and cocktails take over.
Caftans, younger love interests, and trips abroad are replaced by a rotation of elegant tunics, printed blouses with bows, and glamorous dresses, and a llama from the past. No matter her age, Margaret’s style is impeccable; Manville sprawled nonchalantly on the couch in her underwear makes me question my choice of sweatshirts and knitwear for watching TV.
Manville’s first appearance is understated, but loaded with sparkling wit: his attempt to protect his sister’s feelings. At the Ghillies Ball, she dances and gives the new Prime Minister, John Major (Jonny Lee Miller), a classic history lesson. While Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) couldn’t handle herself in this elite circle, Major responds to Royalsplaining without breaking a sweat.
Manville’s tone is part playful and part cutting, and the image of her casually leaning against a fireplace with a glass in one hand and a cigarette holder in the other is a reminder of her role within this family. At this point, she is part of the party furniture, and weariness cooks into this rebellious image.
Signs that a life of excessive alcohol and tobacco use is catching up come in the form of a dry morning cough. The soothing hot elixir is required first thing in the morning. Manville has more to do in his first season than he does in Bonham Carter’s last, that he arrives hand in hand with a letter he ran away from.
Because The crown it’s not a documentary (No, Really), hopefully a spoof of the timeline. Actually, Margaret’s appearance in the long-running BBC Radio series desert island pucks It happened a decade before with different song options than those of the fourth episode of season 5. Music and Margaret go hand in hand, and it’s no surprise that Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” replaces Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons” as a romantic message. The dramatic license heralds the arrival of Timothy Dalton as the older Captain Peter Townsend (it feels good that an ex-James Bond is playing this role) after hearing his ex mention this particular song.
The show uses the classic hymn “Abide With Me” to underscore the overarching themes, with regards to Elizabeth’s Church of England figurehead role standing in the way of Charles’s (Dominic West) desire to divorce her. Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) hoping to remarry Camilla (Olivia Williams).
This kind of unsubtle intersection of stories adds to the melodrama, as Charles is far from the only one thinking of divorcing and remarrying. Princess Anne (Claudia Harrison) faces a situation just like her aunt’s from decades ago. History has a habit of repeating itself, and The crown draw a direct line in blinking neon from one Windsor to another. But even when the material leaves little room for nuance, Manville takes the occasionally clunky dialogue and makes it sing.
“Stardust” prompts Margaret’s “audit of the heart”, a wistful turn of phrase punctuated by Peter listening to the broadcast. She openly references her memory and age, which ties into her sister’s ongoing battle for relevance in the public eye. Manville nearly rips open her soul to reveal his thoughts on lasting love, before slamming it shut when the host asks probing questions. She may be more outspoken and outgoing than the monarch, but she still follows the stoic rules of this family.
Manville recaptures the first flushes of love, mirroring Kirby in the first season, but with hindsight as his guide. Laughing at a joke he made about his age could be embarrassing; instead, in the hands of the Oscar nominee, he’s pretty sweet.
But Margaret’s headstrong personality takes a backseat as soon as she sees her old boyfriend, as the band plays an instrumental version of “Starburst.”
This rendition of their song veers into cheesy territory, but both Manville and Dalton play effortlessly with the weight of the nearly 40 years since they last saw each other. Instead of leaving early, the piano commanding Margaret reappears and all eyes are on her. Her pink number begs to be adored in a sea of black tuxedos and muted dresses.
The flashbacks to the ups and downs of this date are prompted by old love letters the two of them had, and while it’s nice to see Kirby again, there’s no need to press rewind on the moments we’ve already seen. Only Manville is more than equipped to record this kaleidoscope of feeling without resorting to a bundle of clips: if it were new scenes with Kirby, then I might feel differently.
Perhaps the most rewarding dynamic of the entire series (regardless of the pair of actresses) is when the brothers go toe-to-toe. Downplaying her younger sister’s love for Captain Townsend could be read as the queen alleviating her guilt in breaking off a genuine love affair.
After rereading letters and talking about some of their funniest moments (in the now destroyed but appropriately named Crimson Room at Windsor Castle), Margaret goes to see her sister. She has not stopped to offer Lilibet consolation for the recent fire, but to pour gasoline on the embers of an old flame. She can barely spit out her hypothetical motive for the arson, which she gets to the core of when Manville utters, “So she denied.”
“Don’t fight me, I’m sure you won’t get out alive. I’ll run through you and you’ll be the one to end up on the ground. Understood?”
Years of pain are brought to light because her niece Anne is being allowed what Margaret was not: “The situation is identical except for the outcome.” Letting her sister have it with both barrels is part of this tour de force that has echoes of what Bonham Carter and Kirby did before her. While the affairs and reorganization of the monarchy take up most of this season, this brotherly bond commands our attention.
Though Manville has only become a household name since eviscerating Day-Lewis in Ghost menace, has been building an impressive resume in television, film and theater since the mid-1970s. (“Don’t pick a fight with me, you certainly won’t get out alive. I’ll run right through you and you’ll be the one to end up on the ground. Understood?” is a line reading, I think about a lot.)
Getting to play an 18th-century French noblewoman who receives sexual pleasure in the new dangerous friendships The Starz adaptation, set in the same year as Princess Margaret, is a treat for fans new and old. This new iteration is a prequel that sees Manville as the Marquise Genevieve de Merteuil, a woman who is about to find herself in the unique position of being blackmailed into offering help to a young woman trying to break free from shitty circumstances.
The mix of vulnerability and stoicism is a Manville signature, and it’s no wonder he’s a perfect fit for this role. Not to mention, she also appeared in RSC’s original 1985 stage adaptation of dangerous friendships.
Director Mike Leigh’s cooking dramas are a staple of his past and show Manville’s depth. However, his wheelhouse now includes a lead role in a sort of enchanting 1950s Cinderella, Mrs. Harris goes to Paris. Buying a Dior dress is the dream of this working-class widow, and this film is a delightful treat from start to finish. on PBS Masterpieceyou can see her in the series whodunnit the Magpie Murders, playing a publisher convinced there is more to her client’s death than meets the eye.
Earlier this year, he starred in the harsh BBC series. sherwood, in which she plays the wife of a murdered former miner in a true crime story. A naked Manville dominates the screen in this gripping drama. She even had time to reprise her narrator role in the HBO Max anthology series. Love life.
When Manville was one of the first names announced for the fifth season of The crown, it was clear that Margaret would be in good hands. The actress is more in demand than ever, and whether she plays a princess, a cleaner or a detective, Manville has more than earned this TV reign.