Daily Handbasket: Bingeing on Hulu’s National Treasure

Robbie Coltrane's character in National Treasure has reason to look grim.

Andrea Riseborough, Robbie Coltrane, and Julie Walters in National Treasure


Thursday was a bit of a down day. Our girl and her fianc√© left for their summer gigs up east, and I simply crashed. I started out the day with good intentions, but by the time I finished my healthy yogurt, blueberry, and Udi’s granola breakfast, and found that I also ate my entire dark chocolate ūüćę allotment for the day, I knew my intentions had foundered. After that, it was all pretzels, sour cream, ice cream, and a four hour Hulu binge. And I enjoyed every moment.

My Hulu indulgence was a series called National Treasure, with the brilliant Robbie Coltrane. (You might know him as Hagrid from the Harry Potter films, or Cracker.) Coltrane¬†plays a beloved, aging comedian who’s charged with the rape of a 15 year-old girl, nearly twenty-five years after the fact. The series’¬†inspiration was¬†the British Metropolitan Police investigation of a number of celebrities relating to¬†allegations of sexual abuse¬†and assault. The victims were often minors.

The thing I like about a mini-series is that it gets to take its¬†time with the story. We get a sketchy portrait of Coltrane’s character, Paul Finchley, right off the bat as he presents a lifetime achievement award to his long-time comedy partner, Sir Karl Jenkins (played by the excellent Tim McInnerny, one of my favorite Blackadder actors). It’s obviously a bitter pill for the sarcastic and disappointed Finchley to swallow. He’s later comforted by his stalwart wife, Marie (played by Julie Walters). Then the police show up, blindsiding everyone by hauling Finchley in to be questioned about the rape charges.

What follows is a deconstruction of a life. Many¬†lives, in fact. This is no crime of the week program. It’s an intense, personal drama, a searing portrait of a long, complicated marriage, and a cautionary tale about the casual ways in which we deceive ourselves. Oh, and there’s plenty of bad parenting, too.

Watch it for the drama, and the costumes. The flashbacks are bright and surreal–almost like technicolor dreams. But watch it most of all for Julie Walters’ truly stunning performance as Finchley’s dedicated Roman Catholic wife. Marie is¬†one of the most complex,¬†layered characters I’ve ever seen on film, and Julie Walters makes her shockingly believable.

There are–as the intro warns–lots of disturbing, mature images. I could’ve done with a few less introspective moments. The director uses long camera pauses, lingering on the faces of the characters as they struggle to make sense of what’s happening to them. But they did heighten the tension. The viewer is forced to consider what decision the character is making. Anyway, it’s all worth watching–even bingeing on.

I must have been wildly inspired by my binge. When I was done, around 3:00 p.m., I got dressed and got to work. Exceptional storytelling like that in National Treasure is always inspirational. I love that.


June 15th Words
Journal: 0 words
Long fiction: 630 words
Short fiction: 0 words
Non-fiction: 0 words
Blogging: 500 words
Exercise: Many trips between the fridge and the couch.

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