A Gentleman in Moscow TV Review

Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead shine in a beautiful drama based on the best-selling novel.

PLOT: Count Alexander Rostov, in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, finds that his gilded past has placed him on the wrong side of history. Spared immediate execution, he is banished by a Soviet tribunal to an attic room in the opulent Hotel Metropol and threatened with death if he ever sets foot outside again. As the years pass and some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history unfold outside the hotel’s doors, Rostov’s reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery. As he builds a new life within the walls of the hotel, he discovers the true value of friendship, family and love.

REVIEW: Ewan McGregor is a singular talent. The acclaimed actor can sing, share the screen with Winnie the Pooh, fight Darth Vader, and play a convincing heroin addict. He has also proven himself adept at sharing the screen with family members. After sharing the screen with his daughter Clara in Bleeding Love, Ewan McGregor is reuniting with his wife, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, for their third project together. McGregor leads the wonderful drama A Gentleman in Moscow, about one man surviving against every obstacle in his path, all in the name of love. Adapted from the bestselling novel, A Gentleman in Moscow is a beautifully realized drama that will have you rooting for McGregor from the opening scene of the first episode through the last scene of the finale.

Set in the day immediate aftermath of the October Revolution, Ewan McGregor plays Count Alexander Rostov. An aristocrat, Rostov is viewed as an enemy of the people thanks to his connections to the former Russian royal family. Having returned to Russia from Paris, Rostov is sentenced to spend the rest of his life as a resident of the Hotel Metropol, a luxury accommodation taken over by the Bolsheviks. Promised room and board, Rostov refuses to be defeated despite his suite being replaced with a servant’s quarters, repeated intrusions by soldiers led by Osip Glebnikov (Johnny Harris), and reluctance by members of the staff as well as other guests who view him as a threat to the new government. In the early episodes, Rostov befriends a young girl named Nina (Alexa Goodall) and plots an escape alongside the exiled Prince Petrov (Paul Ready). Little does Rostov know, but these relationships will forever alter the future of his life.

Chronicling decades of his life within the Metropol, A Gentleman in Moscow imbues Rostov with hope despite all odds to the contrary. Pulling elements from prison stories and themes from Steven Spielberg’s similarly themed The Terminal, A Gentleman in Moscow starts out by looking at what Rostov’s life is like, limited to existing within the walls of a hotel. What could have been a whimsical and humorous tale, as the trailers may lead you to believe, this series is, in fact, a steadfast drama with some humorous moments peppered within. Much of the footage used to cut the trailer comes from the series’ first two episodes, which leaves the plot twists and elapsed time a mystery for audiences unfamiliar with the source material. While trailers often give away too much of the plot, I appreciate how little is truly revealed in A Gentleman In Moscow, leaving the bulk of the story for the viewers to experience chapter by chapter.

A Gentleman in Moscow review

Where the novel compressed and expanded the multiple-decade arc of the narrative, the series spends an appropriate amount of time over the intervening years as Rostov grows from an aristocrat to an even more nuanced character. Able to play Rostov from young to old without relying on much more than wigs and a bit of hair dye, Ewan McGregor beautifully plays this character as a sympathetic and loving man who will not let politics deter his love for his homeland. Couple that with the shared screen time McGregor gets to spend with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and you have the third project the real-life couple have worked on, giving another layer to their chemistry together. Having first played a couple in Fargo before playing hero and villain in DC’s Birds of Prey, McGregor and Winstead once again portray soulmates in this series. Winstead plays Anna Urbanova, an actress who falls in love with Count Rostov, and their relationship is the anchor for this story. In addition, Sofia (Beau Gadsdon), Marina (Leah Harvey), and the rest of the ensemble balance a whimsical nature with the emotional range of the dramatic side of this tale.

Adapted from Amor Towles’ novel by Ben Vanstone (The Last Kingdom, Merlin), A Gentleman in Moscow is directed by Sam Miller (Black Mirror, Daredevil) and Sarah O’Gorman (The Witcher), both of whom turn the Metropol into a character all its own alongside the strong performances of McGregor, Winstead, and the cast. The last hotel that was this important to the plot of a film or series was The Grand Budapest Hotel. While not nearly as whimsical as Wes Anderson’s creation, this series allows the Metropol and its hidden rooms, staircases, and other secrets to add to the story’s charms. There is also a central theme of food that balances the different class levels at play in the early 20th-century Russian setting of A Gentleman in Moscow. With exceptional production values and a classical music score that mixes Russian traditional music and sweeping dramatic themes from composer Federico Jusid, A Gentleman in Moscow is beautifully realized and charming to watch.

A Gentleman in Moscow is a pleasant surprise. For a story set in a violent era of political upheaval in a country notorious for such events, Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead can project light and air of positivity despite all odds being against them. In an age where we can easily wallow in negativity, Alexander Rostov is a beacon of never giving up, even when everything seems hopeless. I felt invigorated after completing this series and am not ashamed to say that I was invested in these characters enough to have multiple emotional responses over this sprawling series. A Gentleman in Moscow is a touching portrait of overcoming the odds and finding love despite everything in your way. Another win for Ewan McGregor.

A Gentleman in Moscow premieres on March 29th on Paramount + with Showtime.

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/a-gentleman-in-moscow-tv-review/

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