A princess who rhymes with peril

The standout episode this year is titled Beryl—a nickname Princess Margaret uses while signing a mirror with a conveniently kept diamond—and it is primarily an episode about having a picture taken. Cecil Beaton, photographer and chronicler of royal faces that shine forth with dreamy otherworldliness, is trying to take Margaret’s portrait, and she can’t stand the stuffiness, or the best-case scenario that she’ll look like her mother. “No one wants complexity or reality from us,” the Queen Mother assures, before Beaton breaks into a daft soliloquy about a fictitious woman who lives in strife and who, on seeing the picture of a dolled-up princess in the papers, will break out the “new neckerchief” she has saved up for and walk out “renewed”. Churchill might have approved of this idealized depiction of iconography, but Margaret is a harsher critic.

She is also a lonely girl. Played with an effervescent uncertainty and self-protecting bitterness by the stunning Vanessa Kirby, Margaret is a woman wanting love and—despite her drily voiced disdain—conventional happiness. This episode, directed again by Caron, approaches that all-powerful yearning for cliché via a heady take on romantic-comedy tropes, frequently even leaning on the works of the writer Richard Curtis: Meetings and conversations take place at various wedding parties, like in Four Weddings And A Funeral, and some scenes requiring an incredibly famous woman to hobnob outside her circle do borrow from Notting Hill. Princess Margaret is arching her immaculate eyebrow at those-too-cool-to-get-up-and-greet-her when she finds her Manic Photographer Dream Boy.

Antony Armstrong-Jones, who insists on being called Tony, is played by Matthew Goode as the rake to end all rakes, a photographer so damnably cool that he can’t often be bothered to look through his camera while taking a picture. He stares, instead, at the subject before forcing his intrusive personality upon her. Margaret finds herself thrilled even as she can see through his act—she chastises him for a routine she calls “too practised, too well-oiled”—while he keeps upping the ante. To her, this ridiculous man, one who authoritatively slides her dress off her shoulders or makes a show of appreciating her posterior while she looks at him in the mirror, is what she herself wants to be: the ultimate provocateur.


Posted by britgirl on December 28th, 2017 under TV Projects with 0 Comments
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