Broadbent makes 'Longford' a must-see

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Another British production, albeit one with a completely different tone than "The State Within," HBO's "Longford" offers a rich, rewarding meditation on the nature of forgiveness.

Giles Keyte
Jim Broadbent portrays the Earl of Longford in HBO's "Longford."
Click photo for larger image.


When: 8 p.m. Saturday, HBO

Based on a true story, "Longford" chronicles the relationship between the Earl of Longford (Jim Broadbent) and Myra Hindley (Samantha Morton), an accomplice in the murder of several British children in the 1960s.

Longford had already gone through several transformations in his life (Protestant to Roman Catholic, politically conservative to liberal, etc.) and took it upon himself to correspond and meet with imprisoned, forgotten citizens and encourage their rehabilitation.

Hindley had already become a national pariah at the time she contacted Longford, whose political ambitions are derailed by his drive to be "the outcast's outcast."

"No human being is beyond forgiveness," Longford says to his wife (Lindsay Duncan, "Rome"), whose understanding of his pet cause is not unending. "Condemn people from our armchairs and what have we become?"

Longford believes Hindley's contrition, her desire to reacquaint herself with the Catholic church; but her lover/accomplice, Ian Brady (Andy Serkis), tells Longford he's being deceived. Brady says she simply reflects back to people what they want to see.

The central questions "Longford" poses are simple ones: Is Hindley sincere, and if not, will Longford cleave to his beliefs? (Longford preaches: Love the sinner but hate the sin; assume the best in people; believe anyone, no matter how evil, can be redeemed eventually.)

Simple questions, yes, but the issues they explore are anything but simple. "Longford" dives head-long into some of the most complex questions of human morality, and it's a pleasure to watch an actor of Broadbent's caliber tackle the notion of forgiveness with dignity and solemnity in what is easily one of the best TV movies you're likely to see this year.


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