Premiering on Thursday 3rd July, BBC2’s new drama The Honourable Woman casts Maggie Gyllenhaal in the biographical portrayal of Nessa Stein of The Stein Group, a former arms company who now promote projects of peace and education between Israel and Palestine. The Honourable Woman follows Nessa as she attempts to right the wrongs of her father Eli, a Zionist arms procurer. After witnessing the assassination of her father by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation as a young girl, Nessa vows to transform her father’s arms business and instead promote peace between Israel and Palestine. The trailer insinuates the process of carefully unraveling an intricate web of reconciliation, politics and emotional turmoil sets up The Honourable Woman to be a compelling and emotional eight-part series.
Nominated for an Academy Award for her supporting performance as a ballsy journalist in Crazy Heart (2009) and receiving Golden Globe nominations for her roles in the independent drama Sherrybaby (2006) and dark comedy Secretary (2002), Maggie Gyllenhaal often takes on strong female characters, a reflection of her real-life feminist self. Her depiction of Nessa Stein looks to be no different. The trailer constructs a montage involving drugs, lust, violence, despair and desperation it is apparent that Gyllenhaal will take us through a complicated narrative of political maelstrom laden with emotional chaos. Nessa narrates the trailer, questioning notions of trust. “Mostly we tell lies, we hide our secrets from each other, from ourselves” she says, “So, when you think about it like that, it’s a wonder we trust anyone at all.” The voice-over sets us up for a televisual world of espionage and conspiracy.
Most noted for his role in The Crying Game (1992) for which he was Oscar- and BAFTA-nominated, Irish actor Stephen Rea takes on the role of spy Hugh Hayden-Hoyle of MI6 who, verging on retirement, investigates the Stein family. Alongside him in a supporting role is Broadchurch (2013) actor Andrew Buchan who plays Ephra Stein, Nessa’s brother. Ephra steps aside from his father’s business to allow Nessa to take the reins while his volatile pregnant wife Rachel is played by The IT Crowd’s (2006-2013) Katherine Parkinson.
With a strong cast and what looks to be a complex narrative using controversial Middle Eastern politics as its platform, The Honourable Woman seems destined to be an interesting and gripping series to watch over the next eight weeks.
The Honourable Woman starts on BBC2 on Thursday 3rd July at 9pm.
Chloe George will be reviewing each episode for Diegesis over the next eight weeks.