Aidan Turner: Desperate Romantics
(Part of The List series for Aidan Turner)
SPOILERS, ye be warned. Click HERE for review of Episode Five.
Episode Six bring the Desperate Romantics series to an end. This is a powerful episode for Aidan Turner and Amy Manson, even more that previous episodes. I like how I started writing this to take about what I liked in Aidan Turner”s performances but the strength of Amy Manson”s acting forced my hand to include her. So we”ll tie that into chemistry between the actors. Hard stuff, this episode.
Right, so. Lizzie Siddal and Dante Gabriel Rossetti are married. They return from their honeymoon to a new place and new responsibilities, such as rent (since Rossetti was stealing living/studio space before). Any excitement they had at being married doesn”t last long. Lizzie discovers that Ruskin has no intentions of continuing his financial support (beyond buying their art).
Now that she”s married, Ruskin says it”s no longer his place to support her. That”s Dante”s job now, well, Gabriel”s (as he”s more frequently called). Lizzie is dejected and driven to laudanum, again. She resents Gabriel saying, “By marrying you I”ve lost Ruskin!” She blames him and this starts coming between them.Amy Manson is amazing to watch her sudden and horrific downward spiral. And Rossetti isn”t there to catch her (Lizzie).
Likewise, Aidan Turner is shocking in the raw emotions his brings to Rossetti. The character resents Lizzie in return, for the weight of responsibility, fidelity, and (I think anyway) a certain loss of identity. He was known as a wildly passionate man, given to drink and lust. But once he was married, he was only meant to show that to one person. He felt forced into it, especially under the deathly circumstances that brought about the proposal and sudden marriage (so save Lizzie from herself). Both were aware of this lackluster rationale for a wedding. And both had started hating the other for it. All of this was played deftly by the respective actors.
So, the thing is, Rossetti… He, well, he has a way with words. With women, usually he was charming and affirming. But with Lizzie, Gabriel started to turn on her. I mean, his poems were great. They were beautiful. But the way he talked to her in fights… He found the ways to cut right down to the deepest parts of her soul and sliced away. This was more of Aidan Turner”s stunning commitment to the truth of the character. He does hold back or try to make Rossetti a sympathetic character in these scenes. He unleashes Rossetti, the resentful and frustrated man. And it”s Lizzie who bears the brunt of it.
Remember how Dante used to call her Sid? There”s one scene when he calls her that again. Only it”s too late. Lizzie and her laudanum… See, Dante just goes too far with his biting remarks (there”s a Being Human reference in there somewhere). Lizzie decides to use her weakness, the laudanum, to commit suicide. Gabriel and Fred discover her lying, death-like, on the floor. Dante is horrified and sobs over her, calling her Sid and begging her not to die. But it”s already too late…
Aidan”s performance from this point on…is art. It is as beautiful as it is evocative. With such a deep mixture of grief and guilt, textured with the most severe regrets, Turner“s work is something to be marveled and respected. I wasn”t sure I”d ever pity Rossetti, preferring to believe he”d get was he deserved, but that… Wow. No, Rossetti didn”t deserve that. (Mind you, Lizzie didn”t deserve how he treated her). This all culminates at the funeral scene when Gabriel screams that Lizzie isn”t at rest because “she thinks I didn”t love her!” Painful and dramatic work. Brilliant.
You think that Rossetti must have learned his lesson the hardest possible way. Surely he”ll be better now. A more decent human being… But no. Not really. Not when you see him dig up Lizzie”s fresh grave to retrieve the poems he had thrown in with her coffin. He had been told they were his best work, “clearly publishable.” And Rossetti craved artistic success more than the (recent) memory of his dead wife. And, like Fred, we are freed of him. Rossetti no longer has the power to manipulate us because he”s just gone too far this time.
Though I”ve spent most of my time talking about Aidan Turner and Amy Manson I do want to be clear that I thought every cast member”s performance was just as excellent. One of my favorite moments was withJennie Jacques as Annie. In an earlier episode she slaps Hunt in front of his audience and storms out. When he chases after her, she screams at him in confrontation and her face flashes to a bright, ferocious red before your eyes. It”s awesome. I loved it. Hell hath no fury like Annie Miller. Epic anger.
Anyway. Every episode is complete worth watching. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even when I wanted to slap Rossetti myself.
Final touches, Episode Six:
Man, can Aidan Turner cry… Which, in turn, makes me cry. Damn it.
The entire cast of Desperate Romantics is brilliant. Great stuff all around.
Don’t enrage Annie Miller.
Watch this show. Unless you”re squeamish about nudity, I guess.
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