The reimagining of Anthony Quinn’s novel ‘Curtain Call’ centers on Jimmy Erskine (Ian McKellen), the Daily Chronicle’s most famous and feared theatre critic of the age; David Brooke (Mark Strong), with whom he clashes after recently inheriting the paper; and a young actress, Nina Land (Gemma Arterton) who is devastated by Jimmy’s recent negative review of her. As the three become entangled in a whodunnit wrapped in a Faustian pact, their strange triangle winds tighter and tighter to devastating effect for all those caught in the deadly web of blackmail and betrayal.
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"The Critic, written by Patrick Marber and based on the novel Curtain Call by Anthony Quinn, is a wonderful prestige drama that should garner praise for Ian McKellan’s performance. Gemma Arterton is a stand-out as well, as she skillfully navigates how a stage actress tries to overcome personal demons and self-doubt to be a stage actress worthy of Erskine’s praise. The rest of the cast does right by the material and involves viewers in the mystery." Simone Cromer, Film Threat 8.5/10 ("Top Critic")
“The Magnificent McKellen’s Jimmy Erskine is a villain to remember, and he makes Jimmy simultaneously despicable, understandable and wholly entertaining. When he gets ahold of this part, there’s nothing a critic can do but nod in approval” Steve Pond, The Wrap ("Top Critic")
“McKellen relishes another devious character to sink his teeth into, devouring every scene; a deliciously caustic turn that will provide him with nothing but the finest notices” Benjamin Lee, The Guardian ("Top Critic")
"Good dark fun from director Anand Tucker (“Girl with a Pearl Earring”) with Ian McKellen playing a fearsome old dragon of a drama critic in 1930s London, Gemma Arterton as an actress receiving the sting of his lash, Mark Strong as a titled newspaper baron and a series of feints deceptions and increasingly nasty doings that lead the plot to the edge of tragedy and then beyond. With a script by Patrick Marber (“Closer,” the not-dissimilar “Notes on a Scandal”) Romola Garai and Lesley Manville in support and one of Sir Ian’s juiciest roles since “Gods and Monsters” in 1998 it’s a class act all around." Ty Burr's Watch List ("Top Critic")