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A Gentleman in Moscow (2024) — Series Review

Placing whimsy onto a historical tragedies can lead to compelling storytelling, as proven by Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See. Now, we have another example: Showtime's "A Gentleman in Moscow." The series artfully instinctive; navigating a fine line between outright whimsy and voyeuristic gawking at the Bolshevik Revolution's messy aftermath.

An adaption of Amor Towles' 2016 novel, the series starts in 1921 with Count Alexander Rostov, played by Ewan McGregor, who is exiled to Metropol Hotel due to a revolutionary poem bearing his name. Rostov's life henceforth is confined within the walls of the hotel, but Ewan McGregor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and the ensemble cast ensure that the journey remains engaging throughout.

Accents in the series are unobtrusive with most characters adopting a "British" or "European" inflection, avoiding distraction. The passage of time is subtly indicated by graying hair rather than excessive aging makeup which adds to the series' appeal.

However, "A Gentleman in Moscow" grapples with character development. Many characters, particularly Rostov, show minimal change over the span of the series. The series adopts a non-invasive path to character progression, lending to the overall gentleness of the series.

A Gentleman in Moscow (2024) — Series Review

The series also juggles the balance between acknowledging the past and viewing it through rose-tinted glasses. It ponders between a drama where the old possibly defective ways might have been preferable to the progressive new order with its criticisms and challenging societal shifts. Concurrently, with race-blind casting decisions giving Fehinti Balogun as the charismatic Mishka, it manages to feature both conventional and progressive ideologies, making it widely palatable.

Amid these elements, the performances stand out. McGregor shines as Rostov, from his love for vintage wines to his morning calisthenics and a chemistry with Winstead that transforms from amusing to sweet. Plus, the impressive production design of the Metropol is worth a mention, often being 'a character' in itself, providing continuous visual interest.

While narrative momentum can be inconsistent, "A Gentleman in Moscow" rewards patience, serving as a charming encapsulation of a man coming to terms with his constrained reality. One should simply sit back and savour the performances and visual grandeur. Ultimately, despite any heartstring tugging in the final episodes, the series leaves you with a sense of gratified investment.