Longford Year: 2006

Writer: Peter Morgan

Director: Tom Hooper

Budget: ?

Gross: (didn't go to theaters)

based on a true story, Longford is the portrait of:

    "british lord frank pakenham (jim broadbent), the 7th Earl of longford, and his controversial headline-making friendship with one of england's most notorious criminals...myra hindley (samantha morton), a young woman serving a life sentence for murdering children with her lover ian brady (andy serkis). though longford encountered public outrage, discouragement from his wife elizabeth (lindsay duncan), doubt from his family, and criticism from his colleagues and the press, he continued to visit and exchange letters with hindley. after learning that she once converted to catholicism, longford encourages her to return to the church and ask for god's forgiveness."(taken from hbo.com)

i should say that i was completely ignorant of who longford was prior to seeing the film, and went into it without any preconceived notions about who he was or what he had done.  i assume this would have been a very different experience for anyone who remembers these highly publicized events and the huge press and tabloid coverage that he received and the public anger that was directed towards him.  i read some discussions of the film that talked about it trying to re-examine and rehabilitate longford's public image.  however, like i said, i came into it with a clean slate and no image of him that needed to be rehabilitated.

what i got was a really moving and interesting portrait of this man and his faith and the toll that his relationship with hindley took on him personally and publicly.  the film isn't about hindley's guilt or innocence  other then how it relates to longford.  this is very much his story.

broadbent is really great as longford.  his voice and manners or speech and movement create a character that is sympathetic and also sad at times.  his belief that everyone deserves forgiveness can be very frustrating when you think about the things that hindley was a part of.  but his willingness to fight for those that have no one to fight for them is something that one can respect even if one couldn't be so forgiving. 

now, to be fair, the film is taking a narrow view of logford and is very much focused on his relationship to the hindley case.  in doing research after watching the film i found some facts about him that were unpleasant, including his strong homophobia and staunch opponent to any kind of gay rights legislation.  however, everyone has multiple facets to their person and the film wasn't trying to tell longford's life story, but rather show a different side to the hindley situation then was in the public press at the time - the tabloids dubbed him lord wrongford

the film did play at sundance, but from what i could tell, never made it to theatres and ended up playing on hbo.  if you get a chance to check it out it would be worth your while.