The Offer Premiere Review: Episodes 1-3

The offer debuts on Paramount+ with three episodes on April 28, 2022, followed by a new weekly episode.

It would probably be a bad idea to remake The Godfather. It would probably be a great idea to tell the story of how The Godfather was made (like Barry Levinson’s next movie Francisco is doing). The Offer strangely tries to do both, through homages galore and through head-scratching dramatizations that veer far beyond creative license and end up somewhere in the realm of fan fiction. On the other hand, even if the Paramount+ series were to be sold as a gangster fantasy, it would still be an utterly baffling watch, with a first episode so scattered and uninteresting that even the exponential improvements in the second and third don’t feel worth the time. .

The age of “trust me, it gets better” TV recommendations has finally come to a head.

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The series is nominally about the making of The Godfather, but what it’s really about is the bizarre automythology of producer Al Ruddy (Miles Teller), who was the show’s executive producer, and on whose basis memories often questioned the story is based. It would be one thing, a fascinating thing, if The Offer really felt like a work of unhinged ego, as it often follows a super-producer with a magical charm, who leaps almost every production hurdle with the power of words. The result, however, is as relaxed as HBO’s. Entourage, in which handsome-boy actor Vincent Chase initially doesn’t get the role he wants, but a few scenes later, he inevitably does. The difference is that Entourage was much more focused and had something like a sense of time and place.

The first episode, titled “A Seat at the Table,” is directed by Dexter Fletcher, runs for over an hour, and evokes the distinct sensation of seeing something assembled by machines. It serves to introduce several key characters in the making of The Godfather: Rudy, studio executive Bob Evans (Matthew Goode), author/screenwriter Mario Puzo (Patrick Gallo), and mob antagonist Joe Colombo (Giovanni Ribisi), but he advances without a discernible idea. narrative, even when he returns to any of his stories. Puzo, for example, has the idea to write The Godfather in one scene, has effortlessly written it in the next, and reaps the benefits of his resounding success in the next scene; Rudy, similarly, puts his foot in the Hollywood door just as quickly and starts up the stairs with lightning speed, but neither of his two scenes is connected by anything other than Rudy’s own presence. the.

The closest thing “A Seat at the Table” has to a direct line is the story of Ribisi’s sweaty, scowling Colombo, who takes offense at Puzo’s novel and eventually the film’s production, though he appears with little often to seem a significant part. Rather than narrative, the first chapter feels like a scattered summary of backstory elements that, in any sensible production, would be truncated into a montage or a few lines of exposition, rather than dwell on what it seems to be several years before the story actually begins (the show immediately feels like it was a movie instead). His sense of time, or lack thereof, is combined with an equally sloppy sense of place, reducing even early ’70s Hollywood parties to forced sequences of muffled talk with no real flair, even when Rudy meets the rich and eccentric Evans for the first time. in an opulent mansion, or when he meets his captivating and outspoken future wife, Francoise Glazer (Nora Arnezeder). Goode is as chaotically energetic as he deserves a figure like Evans, but he’s been dragged through a series that looks and feels like someone has sucked all the visual energy out of Boogie Nights.

Not only does the first episode produce a series of disconnected clinical events, it does so amid almost incessant references to The Godfather as it tries to mold itself after Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece. The foreground pays homage to The Godfather II. The first line even quotes the first movie, and there’s a shot where he stops at a bathroom in an Italian restaurant, as if to elbow you in the ribs and whisper “Remember that super superior scene?” However, The Offer has little interest in recreating the narrative of The Godfather in anything other than a superficial sense. He doesn’t play with light or shadow like Godfather cinematographer Gordon Willis did, even though similar motifs recur throughout the show. His shots are rarely long and fail to unearth what lies beneath the surface of any character (Rudy’s ambitious secretary Bettye McCartt is the exception, but only because actress Juno Temple is so adept at playfully navigating a world of suits while alternately hiding and showing the character’s intellect). The show just goes from scene to scene, always in a hurry to go nowhere in particular.

The hyperbolic dramatizations of the Offer are clearly undramatic.

The two subsequent premiere episodes, directed by Fletcher and Adam Arkin respectively, feel less cluttered in their build, but also suffer from near-constant Easter eggs. A real-life producer who has a bloody “message” left on his bed recalls a similar scene in The Godfather, and while this instance is a fictional creation of the series, it is not woven back into the story of how the film came to be. movie. be be. It’s one of a litany of references that exist only to evoke empty nostalgia, rather than bridge a relationship between fact and fiction, despite delightful (if minor) subplots about how Puzo and Coppola (Dan Fogler) conceived of several memorable scenes. .

Fogler, who stars in the fantastic beasts films, he seems to have carved out a very specific niche as the warmest, most human actor in abysmal productions. His Coppola is a delight (as is Burn Gorman’s cartoonish Austrian industrialist Charles Bluhdorn, though for different reasons), but the matter stops there. Arnezeder shines in her role as Francoise, arriving with an immediate and seductive presence and holding it through gazes seeking answers to whatever Rudy might be hiding—he doesn’t let her in on the tumultuous events of the film’s production. but even his distinctly Godfather-esque story, of a wife pushed further and further into the margins by her husband’s business dealings, ends without tension like Rudy’s other scenes, as most of his marital troubles are smoothed over with a simple snapping his fingers (offering little Teller with whom to work in the process as well).

In addition to the creative and logistical stresses of getting The Godfather approved at Paramount, the show’s main plot is based on real-world anecdotes about Colombo and other mobsters who initially opposed the film, which The Offer attempts to turn into its own. sprawling gangster saga. Its hyperbolic dramatizations, however, are distinctly undramatic and are actually less interesting than some of the actual events that unfolded (for example, the show tries to reframe the Colombo founding of the Italian-American Civil Rights League as a result of from the production of The Godfather, rather than the FBI hounding his son, but in the process, creating a version of the infamous gangster who seems far less dedicated and convincing). Even if one ignored reality, The Offer’s version of events rarely warrants more than a shrug or a giggle. Despite involving dangerous mobsters to inexplicably attack Rudy, he makes the making of The Godfather feel like a piece of cake, given how easily he solves all the problems.

The show’s indecisive relationship to reality is best exemplified by its cast. Where Fogler captures the essence of Coppola—his cadence, his passion, his irritability—without veering too far into personification, The Offer’s other better-known personalities are thrown in opposite directions to the point of irreconcilability. His version of Frank Sinatra (Frank John Hughes), who opposed the character of Johnny Fontane, is so unlike Sinatra in looks, stature, presence, and voice that when he is introduced, your eyes are likely to be drawn to the one extra. more charismatic sitting next to him (this also depends on how thoughtlessly he lights and frames the scene). Meanwhile, the Al Pacino of the series, Anthony Ippolito making a rather cartoonish impression, looks and sounds so much like a parody of Michael Corleone (rather than capturing the spirit of a young Pacino behind the scenes) that he seems less like a real person. . , and more like a strange deep-fake programmed from archive footage (Ribisi is as caricatured as Colombo and sounds incomprehensible; it’s as if he had swallowed a frog).

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By the time the third episode draws to a close, even the show’s vaguely established notions of conflict seem to have been resolved. Meanwhile, the various issues looming in the characters’ futures are even more disconnected from each other than before. What does The Offer seem to promise in the remaining seven chapters? If the marginally more cohesive second and third episodes are anything to go by, one answer is borderline competition. Another is the sibling talk between Puzo and Coppola which, while lacking much real artistic psychology beyond reminiscing about familiar scenes, proves to be light and entertaining enough. However, the general answer seems to be little more than occasionally satisfying some behind-the-scenes curiosities, which are easily readable on Wikipedia, and probably more interesting that way.

Ten-part series The Offer is off to a disastrous start.

As for the actual “drama” in The Offer dramatizations: The show’s underpinnings are eerily ramshackle. He’s about to collapse at any moment, perhaps the next time an artist or gangster with his own convictions and opinions is quickly swayed by a mere sentence or two from Rudy, rather than experiencing significant human change.

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