A veteran theatre critic concocts a blackmail scheme involving a young starlet in The Critic. Jimmy Erskine (Ian McKellen) is the longtime drama critic for The Daily Chronicle, recently inherited by David Brooke (Mark Strong). David wants to restore The Chronicle to being London's most-read family newspaper and earmarks Jimmy for the chopping block, both due to his homosexual proclivities and his regular scathing reviews of actress Nina Land (Gemma Arterton). With his job in danger, Jimmy reaches out to Nina, asking her to seduce David, opening himself up to blackmail.
The Critic Synopsis
The Critic is a drama co-written and directed by Anand Tucker (Shopgirl, Leap Year) based on the novel Curtain Call by Anthony Quinn. Set in 1934 London under the backdrop of Oswald Mosley's British fascists, the film tells the story of deceit and blackmail involving veteran theatre critic Jimmy Erskine and young starlet Nina Land. Nina grew up idolizing Jimmy, which made it all the more painful when he spent a decade tearing her down. In addition, Nina has a complicated relationship with painter Stephen Wyley (Ben Barnes), who is married to Annabel (Lesley Manville), the daughter of Daily Chronicle editor David Brook.
My Thoughts on The Critic
The Critic features an excellent lead performance by Ian McKellen as Jimmy Erskine, who loves entertaining his readers with scathing reviews, while also hiding the fact that he is a gay man in a relationship with his “secretary” Tom Tunner (Alfred Enoch). However, the plot of The Critic gets more convoluted as it goes along, including a love triangle of marital affairs and the overarching presence of pre-Nazi British fascism that is never built upon, other than a couple of scenes where it is used as a plot device. Ultimately, I would recommend seeing The Critic for McKellen's performance, but I would give or take the rest.