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The Little Drummer Girl first reviews are in

Published: 09 Nov 2018

Since its premiere at London Film Festival, The Little Drummer Girl has garnered critical acclaim across the board. Here are some of the highlights…

The results, based on the two episodes newly premiered at London Film Festival are “pretty damn fabulous“, Guy Lodge from Variety reports in his first ever TV review. “Anyone expecting a replica of The Night Manager‘s worsted-wool class act, however, may leave feeling as baited, switched and bemusedly seduced as the titular protagonist, a young London actress and lip-service leftie drawn against her will into a Mossad terrorist-capture mission in the late 1970s”.

Kambole Campbell for Little White Lies describes the show’s cinematic fusion of both art house and period drama. “Though it remains to be seen where the show’s navigation of extremely sensitive politics will ultimately end up, it’s a beautiful, audacious and often hilarious thrill-ride from the get-go”, says Campbell. He continues with: “It seems almost too good to be true that a show this bold also happens to star Michael Shannon sporting a heavy accent and glasses almost as thick as his moustache”. But it is the talent that steals the show, he says: “Alexander Skarsgård, meanwhile, is his typical statuesque, quietly menacing self, and Florence Pugh brings attitude and wit to her central role.” Read the full review on their website.

The Telegraph’s four-star review draws on the show’s popular predecessor: “The Night Manager was winningly swish, the new six-hour series, [The Little Drummer Girl] is a masterclass in slow burn” praises Ed Power. “Even by the standards of the BBC’s exceptionally strong drama slate this autumn, expectations for its new John le Carré adaptation were high. And The Little Drummer Girl (BBC One) didn’t disappoint. A particular high point was Pugh and Skarsgård’s gloriously shot night-time visit to the Acropolis. Much-vaunted Korean director Park Chan-wook certainly brought his painterly cinematic eye to that moment but kept it on the leash elsewhere”.

Keith Watson for Metro shares a similar view, reporting: The Little Drummer Girl is a grubby, gritty slow-burn of a surprise, featuring a star-making turn from Florence Pugh as Charlie, a struggling actor about to dive into the murky waters of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. He insists: “Forget The Night Manager. The Little Drummer Girl is from the sharp end of the spy thriller spectrum and it’s much, much better”.

The Little Drummer Girl isn’t afraid to play in the sunshine”, says Cameron McEwan for Digital Spy. “Illuminating the likes of dingy London theatres to the brutalist architecture of West Germany alongside the more traditionally-pleasing sights of Greece in the summer”. In addition, McEwan enjoys the mix of distinctive characters and personalities: “Likewise, Michael Shannon’s Marty is one of the most intriguing and fascinating characters to grace television this year. Quite simply, when Shannon is on screen you’ll be watching nothing else”.

Lucy Mangan reviewing for The Guardian says: “It’s all brilliantly, beautifully done, and the dialogue sounds as good as everything else looks. By the end of the hour you’re more firmly recruited than Charlie is. Do I know what is real and what is not? Do I know where to position myself at the border between fact and fiction? I do not. Let le Carré and his team determine my truth.”

The Independent gave episode one five stars writing that: “The first episode is all the more satisfying for the way it draws attention to its own artifice. It is a beautiful and oddly disconcerting piece of filmmaking, steeped in the idea of appearances, and how they can be used to seduce and betray. Surfaces, details, attention: the language of cinema is not so different from the language of spying”.

Continuing the momentum, for episode two, The Independent’s four-star review:  “A very stylish adaption of his novel The Little Drummer Girl this continues to be, not least thanks to the excellence of director Park Chan-wook, who makes the very best of the sometimes grim (squalid cell), sometimes magnificent (the Acropolis) settings. It is in that conversation that Kurtz realises that his plan to infiltrate a Palestinian terror cell is in imminent danger of going badly wrong, and that his spies are being drawn into a trap. That, too, is another moment when we see the real quality of this typical le Carré hero.”

On episode two, Gabriel Tate for the Telegraph writes: “Such auteurist flourishes aren’t often seen on television these days, but the fine character work ensured that they didn’t distract from the story. In fact, they enhanced it!”. Tate continues with: “Underlining the artifice underpinning both the story we were watching unfold and the manner of its creation. After all, fakery is at its heart – no one is what they seem, and everyone is putting on a performance. Languid, tense and elliptical, The Little Drummer Girl is as seductive as the late-Seventies fetishism in which it wallows.”

We look forward to many more but, in the meantime, The Little Drummer Girl continues on BBC One, every Sunday at 9pm.