Monday, September 22, 2014

An Honourable Woman

This extended television drama was an accomplished thriller wrapped in the charged politics of the Middle East.

The Stein children witness their father's, staunch Zionist and armorer of the new state of Israel, murder and grow up with a different vision of how Israel's fortunes can be secured - by building interconnections between Jew and Arab, particularly educational, as a contribution to a lasting peace.

However, enmity and suspicion are deeply set, and though Nessa Stein (the honorable woman) imagines their course set fair and each of their steps is conducted with the requisite integrity, her brother's path is a compromised one. Though often acting out of the best of motives, he lays himself open to a corruption by a vortex of competing passions and paranoia.

Out of which is woven the elements of thriller against an abiding backdrop of sorrow.

The sorrow is the continuing belief that violence (whether actual and brutal or in the more subdued tones of manipulation and deceit) is a route towards some kind of solution, rooted in victory. Sadly this route continually arrives at deadly ends that lead nowhere except deeper into the labyrinths of enclosing (and disorientating) hatred.

The best performance is given by the magnificent Stephen Rea as a disillusioned MI6 official, responsible for the Middle East desk, who acts as a 'deus ex machina' slowly untangling the mystery and enabling Nessa to (temporarily) escape the net that has enclosed around her. One of the sub-stories is Rea's attempts to reconnect with his estranged wife and the closing scene is the offering prospect that he has done so. It is as if as a counterpoint to people being lost in causes is the truth of a reality where people can be genuinely lost in one another.

Because in the final analysis, there is always the question: where do we actually want to find ourselves? In the face of a loving other, with all the risk and vulnerability that entails, or in a highly defended identity that offers us ersatz security? Why do we collectively keep preferring the latter, when we know the real joy is always in the former?

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