BBC’s 1980 Thérèse Raquin miniseries

3rd episode:

This episode picks up with the domestic unbliss that Laurent and Thérèse  now share, though they are careful to shield Camille’s mother from any of it, lest she get suspicious.

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There is no etiquette guide for how to fake enthusiasm for hugging the mother of the man you murdered.

Laurent and Thérèse  sometimes put aside their differences because they only thing they are united in is still being haunted by images of Camille’s corpse. Thus, they try to fuck the ghosts away, but it’s not a very effective tactic.

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“I don’t understand why this isn’t calming my troubled mind.”

Then Laurent thinks they should probably just kill Camille’s mother because she has the audacity to be sickly too. As things deteriorate at home, Laurent decides to take up painting again, in a separate studio.

He runs into Dear Abby Vidal by accident at the bar.

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“Do I know you?”

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“I totally know you!”

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“My life is awesome. How’s yours?”

After Dear Abby Vidal asks him about his marriage, Laurent confesses he’s unhappy. Dear Abby Vidal isn’t surprised because he never thought Laurent was cut out for married life and wonders if he’s hitched himself to troublesome Thérèse. Laurent lies and says no but also informs him that his wife has enough money that he doesn’t have to work and he’s taken up painting again as a means of staying away from home.

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“Your life is weird.”

Laurent then asks Dear Abby Vidal if he’s willing to come look at his recent paintings, despite the fact that his more talented friend used to think his work was quite amateurish.

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“Damn, he’s back to painting. Try not to look too horrified on art’s behalf.”

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“If I’m going to evaluate your mediocre paintings, I need to fortify myself with a shitload more alcohol.”

Next scene, they’re in Laurent’s studio.

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Critiquing.

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“I went to art school. I’ve seen much worse.”

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“This experience wasn’t as horrifying as I had envisioned. Thank you, Laurent, for becoming a better painter.”

Dear Abby Vidal is somewhat impressed with how much Laurent’s work has improved, but he does wonder why he keeps painting the same face (Camille’s, which Laurent had not realized and Dear Abby Vidal is not in a position to know).

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“Explain your lack of model variety to me.”

Laurent is frightened by this realization but insists it is nobody in particular–just from his imagination.

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“That’s psychologically interesting. Weird–but psychologically interesting.”

And, sadly, that’s the last of The Rickman, but there’s still more in store for the leads.

Laurent’s realization that Camille has even taken over his paintings ruins that hobby. On top of that, Camille’s already frail mother suffers a severe stroke, which requires even more intensive care from her son’s murderers. Resentment continues to fester between the couple. Thérèse is emboldened by her former mother-in-law’s inability to speak and jealous over the models she imagines Laurent is cheating with. So, she’s the one who blurts out the truth to her horrified former mother-in-law, who is powerless to act on the knowledge–or so Thérèse thinks.

Cut to the world’s most unnerving domino game where Camille’s mother, despite being silenced by the stroke, tries to warn everyone about her son’s murder.

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This was not part of the plan.

Ultimately, she fails in notifying everyone, but her actions do push Thérèse and Laurent even further into madness and despair. I really don’t want to ruin the ending if you’re unfamiliar with the miniseries or the story itself, but I will say that it is quite intense and that this episode especially is such a wonderful depiction of the old proverb about being careful what you wish for because you might get it.

IN SUMMARY:

How watched? YouTube but also available on DVD. Apparently, if you have an Acorn subscription, you can also watch it on Amazon Instant.

Does Rickman steal the show? He doesn’t really have a big enough part to steal the show, especially given how interesting the film is on its own, but he does a great job and is highly amusing when he’s on.

Is it worth watching beyond Rickman? I think so, but probably depends on one’s taste. If the story itself doesn’t interest you, you’re probably going to be pretty mad about sitting through nearly three hours for five Rickman scenes. However, the show is a fascinating portrait of guilt and madness, so if it’s up your alley, definitely give it a try.

Spinoff idea? I’d watch the shit out of a Dear Abby Vidal series that consists of Vidal giving advice to people. 

Best Rickman line? He’s got quite a few good ones, a couple of which I mention in the blog post itself, but I was quite fond of the self-important way he declares to Laurent, “I’m FAMOUS!” in the second episode. The shit-eating grin he sports at the same time just adds to the overall effect.

Best Rickman face? Sadly, the picture quality of the version I watched doesn’t allow for great screencaps, but this one from the scene where Dear Abby Vidal evaluates Laurent’s paintings is the undisputed winner:

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“I can’t wait to get the hell away from here.”

Would I let Vidal read to me? Oh yeah. He definitely can read newspaper articles about himself to me. Vidal’s pretty sleazy if you think about it, but he’s still charming as hell and actually is one of the more level-headed characters. Also, despite being amoral himself, he’s still leaps and bounds ahead of the protagonists’ moral compass. That’s the great thing about being a character in a crime story. You can come off as being a pretty decent fellow simply because you don’t try to murder anyone.

Next time: Two early 80s bit parts, one on an ITV sitcom and the other on another BBC miniseries based on a book.

 

 

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