The BBC’s new two-part drama Restless is a complex tale about a Russian emigree in pre-war France who ends up becoming a British spy before assuming a false identity and retiring to lead a quiet life in the British Isles. Hayley Attwell starred as the reluctant spy Eva who was recruited to work for the British by a debonair agent named Lucas Romer (Rufus Sewell).
The war-time scenes involving Attwell and Sewell were excellent but the flash forward scenes involving the aging Eva (Charlotte Rampling) and her adult daughter (Michelle Dockery) were like a bucket of ice cold water being dumped on a blazing fire. Rampling was convincing as the aging spy whose paranoia had driven her to reveal the truth about her past to her daughter. Dockery on the other hand fell on the wrong side of the line that separates being under-stated from being wooden. She reacted to Eva’s revelations as if she was a twelve year old girl who had just been asked to clean her room. Finding out her mother was a female James Bond just seemed like such a drag to Ruth (Dockery).
The show might have been better if they had just trimmed out the 1970s scenes and focused on the war-time espionage. In terms of acting and aesthetics you can’t go wrong when you devote a lot of screen time to Atwell and Sewell. That being said, we saw a sneak peak of the aging Romer (Michael Gambon) at the end of the episode and there’s a chance that he will breathe some life into the 70s scenes in tomorrow’s concluding episode. Talking of Romer, who would have guessed that Rufus Sewell would grow up to be Michael Gambon? The Harry Potter star doesn’t look even vaguely like the Zen actor but looks apart you can usually count on Gambon to liven up the action.