A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW – Review by Susan Granger

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“It is the business of times to change and gentlemen to change with them,” explains Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov (Ewan McGregor) in this eight-episode mini-series adaptation of Amor Towles’ acclaimed 2016 novel about love and loss.

Count Rostov’s saga begins in 1921, after he’s caught in the Russian Revolution which designated former nobility as enemies of the state. A Bolshevik tribunal sentences him to spend the rest of his life within the confines of Moscow’s Hotel Metropol – not in the elegant suite he’d previously occupied but in a drafty attic, formerly used as servants’ quarters. Should he ever leave, he will be shot on sight.

Haunted by memories of his bucolic past and taunted by Osip (Johnny Harris) from the Russian Secret Police, Count Rostov is soon befriended by precocious nine year-old Nina Kulikova (Alexa Goodall), who has explored every nook and cranny of the hotel, showing him secret passageways and locked rooms filled with confiscated treasures.

In turn, given his extravagant nature and impeccable manners, childless Count Rostov enthralls inquisitive Nina with stories about his glamorous aristocratic past, instructing her on precise and proper etiquette.

Watching her grow into womanhood, their bond grows deeper, aided and abetted by their makeshift family: other long-term hotel residents as well as the waiters, bartenders, cooks, seamstress, barber, and musicians.

Nina’s fate becomes even more intertwined with his after she marries. Determined to follow her Soviet soldier husband to Siberia, yet unable to travel with a child, she leaves her five year-old daughter Sofia (Billie Gadsdon) in his care.

As years go by, Count Rostov becomes increasingly romantically involved with ambitious actress Anna Urbanova (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and more embroiled in the sociopolitical ramifications (terror, famine, mass murder) of the Communist State.

Adapted by Ben Vanstone and directed by Sam Miller, the plot is filled with dramatic twists and turns, set in and around the iconic hotel, as Ewan McGregor delivers one of his most compelling performances, bringing depth and humanity to irrepressible Count Rostov.

FYI: In real life Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead are married; they met playing lovers in Fargo.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “A Gentleman in Moscow” is an intoxicating 7, streaming on Showtime/Paramount +.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.