Is More a bore?
Is it heresy to whisper that the sainted Thomas More is a bit of a bore?
No, it's not heresy. A saint could, in theory, be a dull subject for theatrical portrayal. But it's a curious criticism, at least, to say (as Times review Ben Brantley says) that the playwright "neglects to include several essential ingredients for a compelling dramatic hero. Like conflict, doubt, vacillation and change."
Is it obligatory for a dramatic hero to manifest self-doubt? Somebody should tell Sophocles.
In the screenplay, Bolt takes pains to show the interior struggle of St. Thomas More: a good man's desire to save his position, his family, and ultimately his life; competing against the demands of intellect, honor, and conscience; in the end, with the prospect of martyrdom staring him in the face, recognizing: "Finally, it's a matter of love."
Did the lead actor fail to display that dramatic struggle? Apparently not; Brantley goes to great length to praise the work of Frank Langella, who played the role of St. Thomas.
So what is the critic's complaint, then? There may be a clue in his off-hand reference to the "monolithic goodness" of the saint's character. An evil character might be easier to take--and indeed Brantley expresses keen interest in the role of the conniving, amoral Cromwell. But virtue is out of fashion.
All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!