« on: December 10, 2011, 06:52:37 PM »
Been watching a few episodes of the American "Prime Suspect" remake. Of course, the fact that it consists of "episodes" in the form of an American-style seasons should tell you how much of a remake it is. The substitute for Helen Mirren is Maria Bello, and it's set in New York, and it's a little bit prettied up.
I don't think that Bello is the new Mirren. She does a good job, but very few actors have Mirren's gravitas and screen presence. Mirren has a sort of old-fashioned "elegance" to her that Bello just lacks. It's hard to describe exactly.
So, it carries forward some of the themes, particularly the woman in a man's world, workplace harrassment aspects of it and the dilemmas of being a woman in a hyper-macho profession. I find that it's a bit...caricatured in this new one. In the BBC one, Jane was everywoman, and her male colleagues were a resentful everyman. The American Jane is not quite everywoman, but her rivals are all enormous testosterone apes of a certain sort. It makes the sexism seem exceptional and a little harder to believe.
In American Jane's personal life, there is a boyfriend who is also a bit of a too-good-looking also-testosterone-ape guy, who is also used to highlight some of Jane's dilemmas. Boyfriend has a child from a previous marriage and is still fighting about custody details with his helicopter-mom ex-wife, who of course is not only nonplussed by Jane, but nonplussed by the fact that her son's stepmom-to-be is in a dangerous profession where everything can't be locked down. But she too is a bit of a caricature. The episodic nature also means that, so far, the kinds of massively complex overarching plots and social commentary we find in the BBC one is...somewhat weaker.
In sum, while I actually like it on its own terms, well...I'm pretty sure that Helen Mirren would never have made it if she had to start in the USA, nor the BBC series as a whole. It's not possible to use a subtler hand with more ordinary-seeming people on American networks. Still, Bello is definitely trying, and the acting is good and the plots interesting. But it's not Prime Suspect...