Any Human Heart
by Del Harvey
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Beginning tonight, PBS Masterpiece presents a story about one man that spans a lifetime of amazing experiences. The character is Logan Mountstuart, the hero of William Boyd’s acclaimed novel about a man who was a writer, lover, art dealer, and spy living by his wits in the tumultuous 20th Century. Portraying this man at varying stages in his life are Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent (Iris, Moulin Rouge), Matthew Macfayden (Little Dorrit, Pride & Prejudice), and Sam Claflin (The Pillars of the Earth).
Adapted for the small screen by Mr. Boyd, the production travels throughout Europe as Mountstuart seeks love and contentment in a life filled with extraordinary experience. Among the many women in his life the one who stands out most is portrayed by the lovely and talented Hayley Atwell (Brideshead Revisited, Mansfield Park). But he also comes into contact with Gillian Anderson (Bleak House, The X-Files) and Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City, The Ghost Writer). Also seen in the film are Tom Hollander (Wives and Daughters, In The Loop), Ed Stoppard (Upstairs Downstairs), Samuel West (Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express), and Richard Schiff (The West Wing).
Mountstuart’s trajectory takes him to Paris in the 1920’s, to the Spanish Civil War in the 1930’s, through British Intelligence in the 1940’s, the New York art scene in the 1950’s, a left-wing terrorist cell in the 1970’s, and even more. Along the way he befriends Ernest Hemingway (Gulian Ovenden), and Ian Fleming (Tobias Menzies). He meets Winston Churchill (Gerry George) and becomes a favorite of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (Tom Hollander and Gillian Anderson) - the abdicated British king and his controversial American wife.
Directed by Michael Samuels, Any Human Heart manages to slip through time and back again in various episodes to some success, often giving greater meaning and understanding to a very complex life.
PBS Masterpiece airs this engrossing series Sundays beginning February 13 and continuing through February 27, 2011 at 9pm Eastern.
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.
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