The Regime

The Regime
The Regime
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Watch out for Oscar-winner Kate Winslet (The Reader, Titanic, Mare of Easttown) to score another Emmy nomination for her part in The Regime. As HBO’s new brutal dark comedy’s Chancellor Elena Vernham, she delivers a compelling performance as an idiosyncratic, delusional and sickly ruler of a fictitious Central European country crumbling under the weight of financial crisis. In this involving and often hilarious series that is probably still on a high after his previous success writing for Succession that swept Emmys and hit movie The Menu, executive producer Will Tracy also doubles up as the showrunner and writer.

But here it broadens almost into the area of camp if not for Tracy’s penchant for boardroom brouhaha so abundantly displayed in Succession. That isn’t so bad but don’t look under the surface much when the series tries to at times. Nonetheless, Winslet is good at walking this thin line between black comedy and critical socio-political commentary. But you’ve never seen our dear Kate quite like this.

The Regime takes us inside a modern dictatorship collapsing from within. So paranoid about mold, or carrying herself too carefully when appearing to the public eye is Chancellor Vernham who finds an unlikely confidante in gruff soldier Herbert (Matthias Schoenaerts – Django Amsterdam). Herbert’s power over Vernham results in such devastating ripple effects that Elena becomes even more power-hungry than before. Guillaume Gallienne (The King’s Favorite), Andrea Riseborough (Alice & Jack), Martha Plimpton (Raising Hope, The Real O’Neals), and Hugh Grant (Wonka Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves)  co-star in what arguably would be wickedly fun but also maybe thoughtful piece.Let’s jump right into it.

If anything at all, The Regime does not offer deeper understanding or alternatives to its concern with fascism. Instead, Will Tracy is asking us to play with Kate Winslet—sucking up scenery at every chance—and reserving more in-depth discussions on governance, totalitarianism and narcissistic politicians for the likes of Bill Maher. That doesn’t take away from an otherwise good show. However, it might raise a few eyebrows among deep thinkers; especially those who are into political comedies and dramas.

Thankfully, Winslet offers yet another fantastic performance. The actress becomes Vernham as an agitated despot we can both love and hate. Will Tracy also has a lot of fun outside boardrooms and private jets and this comes out in how he wrote the script or what he fed Winslet. Chancellor Vernham lives in a hotel she took over after toppling the previous regime (it was full of neo-Marxist thieves that made you feel hopeless) along with her husband (Guillaume Gallienne).

Moreover, Vernham always talks about how much her country adores her as well. Mostly through public addresses is when all this happens. Nevertheless, behind closed doors she’s more forthright than that one would expect: For instance, to get a major alliance with America,Vernham had hoped but she gets piqued off when it turns out that top government officials decided to send a senator to speak for America at her palace instead.Vernham is savage in his reply.

This dialogue was the best in any TV series we have watched this year—ruthlessly smart though it is. Since Kate Winslet gets some of the thickest lines, she has that kind of excitement that people might never have felt from her. She moves between the more lyrical delivery pieces and ones filled with hateful, narcissistic vainglory. A key moment shows Winslet’s chancellor singing off-key and lisping If You Leave Me Now by Chicago.

Matthias Schoenaerts’ portrayal of a tortured Herbert is positively triumphant. He is an experienced soldier whose emotions were affected by his time working in cobalt mines sought after by the nation. Elena and Herbert’s sick bond grows through subsequent episodes resulting to big turns mid-way through its six episodes and even bigger twists at the end of last episode. Martha Plimpton also stands out as a senator who comes to visit Kate Winslet in Episode 2. Although Plimpton never disappoints, there are specific things about her portrayal of such female American politicians that make it particularly exceptional.It would be better if you watched Hugh Grant’s character for yourself and how he fits into this narrative.Lovely move by Will Tracy.

Perhaps some characters, those with more substance than most others, exist just on the margins of power reigning in Berlin and London. Andrea Riseborough does a fantastic job playing the Chancellor’s right-hand woman in matters relating to their home environment. But she has become weary of his caprices, which should not overshadow her chief concern—to keep her son away from sickness as much as possible while he himself withdraws emotionally further within until he spends all day long near the chancellor’s office; because when there is a young child nearby – it makes sense for the country leader.

Meanwhile, let us discuss Kave Quin’s production design for Trainspotting which was simply radiant—it had everything starting from vivid greens along with crimson colors, ornate and huge rooms and other smaller details in food design, china, chandeliers, wallpaper. In one word: incredible. All of this goes into the fluffy fascism being displayed here.

For instance; Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons, State of the Union) and Jessica Hobbs (The Crown) directed episodes in turns. Both these veterans have had much success with political shows before so we’re in safe hands. Camera angles – low gazing up; high veering down – catch the mood at any given moment whatever its flittiness or fabulousness. However when this Regime attempts to got out into deep waters by putting its characters including Elena Vernham played by Winslet through situations that they must be true to themselves , something doesn’t feel quite right . But at this point we’ve already had enough whipped cream so that whole creative carrot seems off base.However you slice it though The Regime is a great experience and currently one show to watch now…

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