Friday, November 30, 2018

Alan Hollinghurst on Jeremy Thorpe and Hugh Grant

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Alan Hollinghurst has written about A Very English Scandal, the BBC drama based on the Thorpe Affair, for The New York Review of Books.

In doing so he picks up something I missed in my own review for Liberator:
Thorpe is played with breathtaking plausibility by Hugh Grant. Only at one moment did I have doubts. Thorpe became “the youngest man to lead a British political party in more than a century” when he gained the Liberal leadership: he was thirty-seven. Grant is fifty-eight, and his age, perfect for the more cadaverous Thorpe of the late 1970s, lends a perhaps misleading color to the flashback scenes in 1960, when he first meets and seduces Scott ("Now I’m going to kiss you, and you will enjoy it"). 
Thorpe, a well-connected Old Etonian, had all the readily exploitable power and prestige of class and status, but he was only thirty-two, a young man himself, not the late-middle-aged predator we see onscreen. The social dynamics may have been similar, but the personal ones must have been somewhat different. In reality Thorpe was one year younger than Grant was when he played the tousle-haired Charles in Four Weddings and a Funeral.
That explains why Thorpe's sexual encounter with Scott seemed so like rape and my puzzlement, as the drama unfold, at Scott's insistence that they had been in a loving relationship.

Anyway, do read Hollinghurst's article. It is very good.

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