Words: Josh Blacker
'Any Human Heart': 'Episode 3'
SYNOPSIS: "Jim Broadbent, Matthew Macfadyen and Sam Claflin take the lead role in William Boyd's funny, moving and ambitious adaptation of his best-selling novel, exploring one man's tumultuous and unpredictable journey through the 20th century" (Channel4.com)
I wasn’t entirely impressed with 'Episode 2', which felt like so much filler between the exciting young life of Logan Mountstuart and all his girls, and 'Episode 3' where Jim Broadbent actually has some lines.
Although the events of the last episode had seemed far too fast to be treated well, this episode seems to have packed in almost as much drama while managing to explore some of the depths of emotion a lot better - as well as packing in a few very funny moments.
Perhaps now we can start to differentiate between the three Logans we have met so far. The first, Sam Claflin, was the naive, but creative, young man; Matthew Macfadyen a man stricken by grief and unable to concentrate on writing; the final, Jim Broadbent, a man much more comfortable in his life and accepting of his own mortality.
Macfadyen’s Logan is a man who makes mistakes. In this episode, it is to turn to drink, which forces his American woman away from him, and, later, to become romantically involved with his late son’s girlfriend. Macfayden’s Logan is a bit of a mess - but he does get one of the best lines of the series. Having been forced to flee America after his 16 year old lover’s father finds out about them, he tells her on the phone from London “Call me back when you’re 17.” She never does.
As soon as Jim Broadbent comes on screen, everything gets a little rosier. His friend Peter Scabius’ (Samuel West) ex-wife comes to live with him, bringing with her a sense of humour; a trip to his literary agency (or at least, what was his agency) brings a brilliant outburst where he sacks them for not letting him use the photocopier for free. There’s something about Jim Broadbent swearing that makes it sound a lot more natural than anyone else so far in this series.
Something is troubling me, though. It was a little bit silly that a 50-odd year old man would start sleeping with his dead son’s girlfriend, but we forgave that. Once we hit the next-episode preview (and before you ask, yes, I would argue it’s as much a part of the episode as Eliot’s notes to the Waste Land are a part of it), my twitter feed went a little sceptical. Much more silliness seems in store.
So out of the three episodes, we’ve had an up, a down, and now an up with a little wobble. Even within this episode, Broadbent’s best bits mask some of the weaker moments. I tend to prefer my drama a little more consistent than this.
The finale of 'Any Human Heart' will be aired tonight on Channel 4. The previous episode are available on 4oD for a brief period of time, for UK users.