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Emily Mortimer’s deft touch drives new series on Amazon

Any series that opens with Pete Townshend on its soundtrack crooning “Blue, Red and Grey” from the Who By Numbers album is OK in my e book.

“The Pursuit of Love” units that quirky tone proper from the get-go and doesn’t let up. But don’t let that idiot you; the three-episode series, premiering Friday on Amazon, dishes out equal elements pathos and humor because it tells the intertwined story of English cousins Linda and Fanny and their journeys by love, loss and friendship spanning the years 1921 to ’41.

The series is written and directed by actress Emily Mortimer (“Shutter Island,” “The Newsroom”) and tailored from Nancy Mitford’s eponymous novel. Mortimer additionally performs a small-but-key onscreen position; the majority of the oft-flippant situation is carried by Lily James as Linda and Emily Beecham as Fanny — they usually each do a superb job delineating the cousins’ sophisticated, thisclose bond all through a journey that may take them on wildly divergent paths.

Linda is the extra romantic of the 2; as a younger lady in 1921, she goals of marrying the Prince of Wales — she’s satisfied she’s going to just do that — whereas Fanny, who narrates the series, is extra wise (an area farmer will do) after dwelling her younger life just about deserted by her mom (Mortimer) — who’s nicknamed “The Bolter” for leaving Fanny at an alarming rate to run off and marry a faceless parade of males, placing her sister in command of elevating Fanny by herself.

Lily James (left) and Emily Beecham star as cousins and greatest pals Linda and Fanny in “The Pursuit of Love.”
Robert Viglasky/Amazon Prime Vid

Fanny spends every Christmas with Linda’s household, the rich, landed Radletts, at their English-countryside manor, lorded over by xenophobic Uncle Matthew (Dominic West), Linda’s imperious father, whose predominant pleasures in life are fox searching and spouting his loud opinions a few vary of topics (largely his dislike of “foreigners”). West sounds a bit just like the late gap-toothed British actor Terry-Thomas right here in all his fulminating glory. Uncle Matthew tolerates Fanny however fears she’ll have a destructive impact on Linda who, if all the things goes in keeping with plan, will stay below his thumb even after he grudgingly marries her off to an appropriate match (learn: a wealthy, titled gentleman — and no foreigners!).

As the series progresses and the calendar flips from year to the following, Linda and Fanny develop up and enterprise out on the planet — Linda marrying the obnoxious know-it-all Tony Kroesig (Freddie Fox), who’s sympathetic to German causes, whereas Fanny falls in love with and marries studious, reliable Oxford scholar Alfred Wincham (Shazad Latif). It’s the one marriage for Fanny (she tells us proper off the bat) however the first of a number of marriages and affairs for the free-spirited, emotionally charged Linda, who lives “in a world of superlatives” and falls in love on the drop of a hat (or the look of a watch). Linda’s vulnerability is of chief concern for the Radletts’ rich neighbor, the good-looking Lord Merlin (Andrew Scott), a free-spirited bohemian in whose mansion horses roam about freely amidst multi-colored pigeons (he’s dyed them blue and pink). He floats out and in of Linda’s all through the present, attempting, with Fanny, to assist her curb her impulses.

Andrew Scott as Lord Merlin.
Amazon

Along the way in which you’ll meet a younger British communist and a French playboy (Assaad Bouab) who each leaving lasting impressions on Linda, whereas Fanny slowly begins to evaluate her personal happiness vis a vis Linda — and considers whether or not there’s extra to life than preserving home, bearing kids and pretending to love Alfred’s boring college colleagues.

“The Pursuit of Love” jogged my memory a bit of, of HBO’s “My Brilliant Friend” in contrasting the lives of polar-opposite greatest pals over a time period. Mortimer reveals a gentle, gentle touch behind the digital camera, and the series seamlessly blends comedy and drama together with its anachronistic soundtrack and pithy title playing cards interspersed all through (Example: “Bitchy Ladies at The Ritz.”) James and Beecham share a pleasant onscreen chemistry — although, because the hard-partying Linda, James doesn’t appear to age a lot over 20 years — however “Pursuit” avoids getting slowed down in its chronology because it flashes again in time from its opening scene, finally returning there within the series finale.