7 November 2001 | annieoz
Masquerading as a noirish thriller this is a redemption story Graham Greene would be proud of.
Sandy Welch's concise and poetic script captures London in a blaze of glory enhanced by David Morrissey's masterly direction, the set design, the camerawork, the music and perfect casting.
All in all the most enjoyable program I've seen from the BBC in years.
The characters circle round Patrick Vine (Paul McGann) like moths round a flame, drawn by his chilly charm, his intellect and his uncanny ability to enact the dark revenge fantasies of our basest moments. The script, at first light and funny, darkens as fun turns to murder and in the end it is Patrick who has to change, magically seduced back to life by Ellen, one of his clients, and London itself.
Patrick - flawed, pedantic, selfish, arrogant, dangerous to know, charismatic and charming - is played by Paul McGann in his most subtle and wily manner.
Sophie Okinedo as Ellen is a fantastic foil - like a child's, her great drooping face can turn from tragedy to comedy in a split second.
Susan Lynch does a gorgeous turn as the murderous vamp to end all vamps and Steven Mackintosh as Patrick's friend Sebastian gives a beautifully wry reading to his lines. Pam Ferris as Denise, a revengeful secretary, provides a solid comic foil to Patrick.
If you enjoyed the book Hawksmoor by Peter Akroyd (1987) or Stephen Poliakoff's TV two-parter Shooting the Past (1999) then you'll know what flavour to expect - a combination of wry sumptuousness and appreciation of human folly.
So thank you Catherine Wearing and everyone who worked on it!