The drama is inspired by Operation Yewtree, a police operation that resulted in the prosecution of a number of veteran TV performers.
A Profound and Brilliant Exploration of Narcissism
and its Destructive Effects on People
Marc Munden’s drama contains so many other brilliant aspects, that don’t necessarily focus on the more salacious material but try to explore how and why Fınchley should behave as he did. What we understand from the celebrity and his wife is how narcissistic they are; despite their frequent protestations of love for one another, as well as for their daughter Dee (Andrea Riseborough), they are pathologically incapable of listening. Riseborough’s characterization is profound; she does not speak much, but she has a way of looking at the ground, almost as if she cannot face the ordeal of communication, especially with her parents. There is one sequence in particular involving Marie and Dee that sums up the emotional disconnect between them; taking place in a bedroom during Dee’s birthday party, Marie emphasizes quite vehemently that she wants her daughter to get better, without understanding in the least how she and her husband are the root cause of Dee’s problems.
Munden’s production is distinguished by memorable cinematography from Ole Bratt Birkeland. Birkeland is fond of long tracking shots, with the camera moving down lengthy corridors to discover the characters. As viewers, we feel we are eavesdropping on their private secrets – just like Peter and Marie, as they seek to find out what’s “wrong” with Dee. Birkeland also uses lighting to reinforce the theme: during the birthday party Peter gives one of his windy speeches. As he does so, the camera tracks slowly to the left, revealing candles at the front of the frame, and after a few seconds settles on Dee, looking once again at the ground in embarrassment, her face obscured by yet more candled. Material things seem to matter more to Finchley – they can be easily controlled, and do not require him to empathize. The fact that Dee appears at the end of the shot emphasizes her insignificance.
Much of the action unfolds in a dream-like world of psychedelic greens, reds, and blues, drawing attention once more to the fantasy-world that Peter and Marie inhabit. Alternatively several sequences take place in darkened rooms, illumined by miserable spotlights; the perfect ambiance for anyone to behave inappropriately without fear of discovery.
Despite its pertinent subject-matter, NATIONAL TREASURE is not really about the abusive celebrity, but looks instead at the destructive ways in which parents – especially those who profess a blameless way of life
- destroy their siblings, as well as others, through neglect, or by assuming that people will behave in certain preordained ways. The action unfolds slowly in a series of lengthy exchanges punctuated by occasional musical interludes (by Christobal Tapis de Veer, but remains compelling. This is one of the best dramas I have seen on any medium in the entire year.