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Parade’s End (Blu-ray Review)

14 Sep, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

$39.98 DVD, $49.99 Blu-ray
Not rated.
Stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Rebecca Hall,
Adelaide Clemens, Roger Allam, Anne-Marie Duff, Rupert Everett, Stephen Graham, Janet McTeer, Miranda Richardson.

In an apparent attempt to siphon some of the glitter from ITV’s wildly popular series “Downton Abbey,” the BBC commissioned Tom Stoppard to pen the five-part miniseries Parade’s End, which he adapted from novels written by Ford Madox Ford.

Starring British flavors of the moment Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness, “Sherlock”) as young conservative aristocrat Christopher, and Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3) as Christopher’s shrill, unfaithful wife, End seems at times to be a laborious melodrama.

Christopher, only slightly more virtuous, falls for a young suffragette (Adelaide Clemens) — a situation that does nothing to further women the right to vote, but plenty undermining his community standing. Coming to his “rescue” are myriad subplots involving third-party characters, as  well as a rapidly evolving British geopolitical landscape, which includes entry into World War I.

Unlike “Foyle’s War,” or other related TV period serials, End features scant visuals to the battles raging across the channel — preferring the conflict remain more as backdrop to the interpersonal struggles at home.

End will appeal to those enamored by British society, countryside cinematography, poetic dialogue (however unintelligible) and strong performances from the supporting cast, including Rupert Everett as Christopher’s brother, Janet McTeer as Mrs. Satterthwaite, and Rufus Sewell (“Zen,” “Eleventh Hour”), among others.

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