Words: Josh Blacker
'Any Human Heart': 'Episode 4'
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)
This final episode of 'Any Human Heart' wasn’t without one last hurrah on Logan Mountstuart’s part. Despite recovering at the beginning of the episode from being struck by a car at the end of the last, it’s not long before Logan is out making adventure again.
Drawn by his poverty into joining the Socialist Patients’ Kollective - believing it at first to be a patients’ rights group, somehow - he ends up selling the SPK’s weekly propaganda rag on the streets, because every good Marxist revolution needs its own newspaper. Here I think we lose something of the Logan we knew - this Logan is naive and unquestioning, despite his previous background as a journalist and writer.
Eventually (and I mean eventually, in a programme over an hour long), Logan ends up on an international mission for the SPK. Only after arriving in Switzerland, via Germany, and accompanied by two young, armed women, do Logan’s growing suspicious really overtake his need for the £100 he’s been offered, and he discovers, surprise surprise, he’s been sent to collect a suitcase full of dynamite, presumably with which the revolution will start with a bang. Logan dumps it in a river. It’s all luck in the end, remember - and this bit seems to be the bad luck.
Thankfully, a little bit of the good luck from earlier in the series comes to his rescue - someone had left him a villa in France. He sells his London flat, and moves for the last time.
The circle is almost complete - we know this is where Logan goes through all his notes and diaries - but still we plod on. There’s more sex. Yes, even in his 70s, Logan still has it, with a local prostitute. It’s a neat little trick - the woman who inspired his best-selling novel was, also, a French prostitute - except this time it ends in a post-coital heart attack.
The rest of the programme plods slowly on, with only a slight hint of romance, and the best adventure he can manage is to stake out a memorial that keeps getting vandalised. Eventually we get to Logan sorting out all those diaries, with a lovely little scene around the kitchen table featuring all the Logans we’ve known, from the small boy in the boat, right up to Jim Broadbent.
Still, there’s something that doesn’t quite live up to the opening episode - the series hasn’t quite kept up the momentum that Sam Claflin brought to the role. While that may well be a central thesis of the novel - a theory of multiple selves - it doesn’t quite translate to the screen, especially when stretched out over four episodes.
When the end comes, though, it is quick and painless, accompanied by a glass of rosé. Who could argue with that?
All four episodes of 'Any Human Heart' are on 4oD for a limited time. UK users only.