Rewatched Jun 05, 2012
Mark C’s review:
"There's an endearing childlike quality about you Frank," says the PM Harold Wilson, as played by Robert Pugh, to Broadbent's Longford early on in the film "But no one wants a child in cabinet" he adds.
It's a statement that kind of sums up the man really; an (all too) innocent figure who refused to see the evil in others; even Myra Hindley. His philosophy was in its way admirable (visiting prisoners up and down the country until his death aged 95) if a little too optimistic, and therein was his downfall.
Broadbent gives another great and textured portrait of a real figure in society, occasionally hinting at a child like ego within the man; a secret delight at being a lone voice against the crowd. He's ably supported by a host of British character actors including Lindsey Duncan as his often long suffering wife and Samantha Morton as Hindley, who must gain credit for playing a vile monster as a human, whilst never stopping us from forgetting the evil within; indeed her attempts at seeking forgiveness consistently have us questioning an ulterior motive, something Longford never does, and it is one that Morton is clever enough an actress to tacitly suggest and underplay to the audience throughout. More unrelentingly honest is the warts and all, unflinching and uncompromising depiction of evil Andy Serkis provides as Ian Brady.
Written by Peter Morgan (The Queen, The Deal etc) this is the kind of gem Channel 4 often produce, though admittedly it's getting rarer these days alas. Broadcast in 2006, a few years after the deaths of Lord Longford and Hindley in '01 and '02 respectively, it has never been repeated or released in the UK on DVD - It is I believe available on Region 1 DVD and on 4OD, the latter being where I have rewatched.