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The Netflix film interviewing Prince Andrew is royally boring

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Johnny Oleksinski

Johnny Oleksinski

Films


Journalism films can be very entertaining (“His Girl Friday,” “The Paper”) or captivatingly dramatic (“Spotlight”).

Movie review

SCOOP

Running time: 102 minutes. Rated TV-14. On Netflix April 5th.

Or not.

This dark middle is on display in “Scoop,” a Dollar Store “Frost/Nixon” about Prince Andrew’s 2019 interview with the BBC in the wake of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking scandal.

Director Philip Martin's film isn't badly made per se, but his efforts to bring the thrilling behind-the-scenes tussle over the Duke of York to television are in vain.

As far as entertainment goes, the biggest hurdle is that it's actually a Goliath versus Goliath story. The film tries very hard to portray the BBC – the largest broadcaster in the world – as some kind of shabby start-up. It's a shame that the viewer doesn't know about it. “B” stands for blog.

There have certainly been layoffs at the company, and the news program Newsnight is trying to up the ante with sensational stories. Producer Sam McAlister is afraid of losing her job.

Rufus Sewell plays Prince Andrew as he opens up about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein on BBC's Newsnight. PETER MOUNTAIN/NETFLIX

But because of their still considerable resources, we don't endear McAlister (Billie Piper), presenter Emily Maitlis (Gillian Anderson) and editor Esme Wren (Romola Garai) to us so much as admire their professional skills. They deserve awards for their journalism, not for a two-hour fictionalization.

The main role here is McAlister, who has a tabloid sensibility that her colleagues scoff at. Still, she adamantly insists that the show keeps an eye on suspicious boyfriends Jeffrey Epstein and the Duke of York.

After Epstein's arrest and later suicide in prison, they persistently pursue an interview. McAlister goes for a cocktail with the prince's advisor, Amanda Thirsk (Keeley Hawes), who will only consider the proposal if Maitlis follows Andrew's Pitch the Palace young entrepreneur program and doesn't accept the pedophile or his nefarious girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell brings up.

Amanda Thirsk (Keeley Hawes) has the difficult task of supporting the prince as he is bombarded with damning headlines. PETER MOUNTAIN/NETFLIX

Hawes has a worn look of feigned support throughout – like a politician's scorned husband admitting to an affair on stage.

Thirsk and the palace are united because they believe a sit-in could change Andrew's reputation. Oops!

“Scoop” thankfully perks up as Maitlis and Andrew face each other for the tense, disastrous conversation.

To play Andrew, Rufus Sewell was enhanced with the help of prosthetics and makeup, which reportedly took up to four hours to apply. He plays the king with the right combination of overconfidence and bumbling stupidity.

The best part of “Scoop” is the final interview. PETER MOUNTAIN/NETFLIX

Compared to him, Anderson's clever Maitlis is the opposite. Concentrated and persistent, she gets on the prince's nerves as only Agent Scully could – with brutal logic and confusing charm.

When the interview is shown on screens around the world and the reaction is clearly against Andrew, it should be a triumphant finale.

But because Prince Andrew was never prosecuted (he settled a civil case with Virginia Giuffre, who accused him of sexual assault), it's not a devastating ending.

McAlister orders a kebab and the next movie in your Netflix queue begins – whether you like it or not.




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