TV series review: :The Honorable Woman: (Sundance Channel)

nessaI stumbled on this after the star, Maggie Gyllenhaal showed up as a guest on Craig Henderson’s late, late night show and briefly discussed the film. She was incredibly articulate and described the film in such a way that I really got interested in it.

Set in Israel, the story line consists of a brother and sister who took over their father’s extensive business in the Middle East after he was assassinated. The series focuses on Nessa Stein (Maggie Gyllenhaal), the British daughter of a Jewish businessman who dealt weapons to Israel and was subsequently murdered before her eyes as a child. When Nessa inherits the company, she decides to take it in a more altruistic direction, contracting with a Palestinian to lay cable that would provide high-speed Internet to Gaza. Nessa is catapulted into a conflict with spies and terrorists that leaves her struggling.

Nessa’s warm, fuzzy intentions are sucked up into the vortex of the region’s conflict: a history of violence, distrust and uncertainty. The evolving situation is made infinitely more complicated by the interaction of several spy groups heralded by the great Stephen Rea as a seedy M6 spy trying to get to the bottom of the intricate mess.

The plot is exceptionally complex, made more so by trying to decipher heavy foreign accents. The double-crossings, the complex machinations, the flashbacks gave some exceptional performances room to breathe, creating characters both compellingly flawed and very human. There is a full bill of phenomenal female characters including Lubna Azabal as Atika (right), Nessa’s translator and companion that would directly lead to political actions replete with murder and mayhem along the way. The power-plays between the sneaky and ambitious Monica (Eve Best), the gutsy intelligence chief Julia (Janet McTeer) and morose Hugh (Stephen Rea) directly participate in the unravelling of the Stein family.

Excellent writing. The tension and suspense of this eight part series, punctuated by unexpected violence and murder is heavy enough to cut with a knife. The dense narrative thickets, moral entanglements and damaged complex characters are beyond compelling. Be prepared to run the film back frequently to understand subtle things easily missed first time around due to heavy accents. This is an excellent film in virtually every regard with fine performances from the characters.

I give it 4.5 of 5 heavy beards. (Can be found on Comcast)

Disclaimer: Contains exceptionally offensive and violent scenes involving women, and also contains a significant amount of Middle East politics without pointing fingers at either side.

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