Julia Roberts shines in the forgotten story behind the Watergate scandal

Welcome again, Julia Roberts. Whereas her friends – properly, primarily Nicole Kidman – have been throughout TV and movie initiatives in current occasions, it has been 4 years since Roberts final appeared. For her return, she’s chosen an absolute crackerjack of a task in Gaslit (StarzPlay).

Martha Mitchell is a footnote within the Watergate scandal: the spouse of John Mitchell, US Legal professional Common below Richard Nixon, she obtained wind of the soiled methods across the president’s 1972 re-election marketing campaign and blew the whistle. However that actually isn’t the half of it. An opinionated and limelight-loving girl – dubbed “the Mouth from the South” – she was considered such a legal responsibility by each her husband and the occasion that they tried to cease her from going to the press by arranging for her to be held hostage in a resort room, the place she was roughed up and forcibly injected with a sedative.

That’s the most stunning and distressing scene in Gaslit, however the sequence additionally gives loads of humour. We’re a world away from All of the President’s Males. Gaslit throws so many characters into the combination that the tone will be uneven – from screwball to critical drama in the identical episode – however all the time engrossing. The highlight is on the Watergate characters who had been proper on the centre of the scandal however who’ve light from public reminiscence.

One in every of them is Gordon Liddy, who oversaw the housebreaking of the Democratic Nationwide Committee headquarters and who’s performed by Shea Whigham as fully unhinged. The operation he runs is a farce. We additionally observe Dan Stevens as John Dean, White Home counsel who turned a key witness for the prosecution. That is Stevens’s greatest work, a deftly comedian efficiency that permits him to shake off the Downton Abbey tag as soon as and for all. John Mitchell is performed with restraint by Sean Penn, buried beneath layers of prosthetic blubber.

For many who prefer to get into the nitty-gritty of historical past, that is illuminating stuff. And on the centre of all of it is Roberts, flashing that megawatt smile and bringing depth to the depiction of a girl who in her day was typically diminished to caricature.

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