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Connie Willis has given me an irrational fondness for British Home Front volunteers in WWII, and The Night Watch is no exception.

The cast is a magnificent collection of people I'm very fond of, delightfully enough. Jodie Whittaker, Harry Treadaway, and Anna Maxwell Martin are all outdoing themselves once again, and Claire Foy and Anna Wilson-Jones are no slouches. It's also nice that the BBC hasn't necessarily reverted to its collection of the same eight actors for this, even if it's because it's an under the radar production.

The plot itself, though, does fall short for me in places. The section set in 1944 is probably the best structured and the most emotionally resonant, making the lack of connection to the characters through the first half hour more stark. While I understand that the backward movement of the narration is part of the point, it does seem gimmicky. On the other hand, they were probably tied to adapting that style from the book, and I bet on rewatch it becomes a lot more interesting.

It's a story about a number of very unhappy people, but in the end, each of them makes their own effort towards being happy again. (The exception, perhaps, being Kay, but she's a category all of her own.) It isn't necessarily about personal triumph, but there's a certain bent towards the value of struggling, which is a pretty decent, not too ham-handed moral for WWII era media. It's a little tiring, but worth the watch.


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January 2012

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