Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC
Language: English (Stereo)
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Number of discs: 3
Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: October 14, 2014
Run Time: 468 minutes
There may be a brilliant storyline somewhere buried in “The Honorable Woman.” It’s just a shame that the writers didn’t feel the need to accommodate the audience in understanding what is going on until it is nearly finished. While this may work for a film which audiences are invested in once they buy the ticket and sit in the darkened theater, but an 8-episode television series provides too many opportunities to jump ship before revelations make the narrative comprehensible, much less enjoyable.
The narrative focuses on Nessa Stein (Maggie Gyllenhaal), the daughter of a notorious Israeli arms dealer who finds herself in the middle of an international drama when she continues an effort to promote reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. Although the narrative begins with a flashback of Nessa witnessing the public assassination of her father alongside her brother, Ephra, the drama really begins with the kidnapping of her brother’s nanny’s son. The reasons for this kidnapping are unclear, as is the motivations of nearly every character we are introduced to for the first six out of the eight episodes.
I couldn’t even describe the plot further if I wanted to, mostly because of how intentionally vague it remains for an extended amount of the material. I have to assume that this was intentional, but it does little to draw the audience in. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the narrative is the reserved manner with which the characters are treated and revealed. Gyllenhaal does an impressive job with the accent and with conveying the emotions, but we are rarely given permission to understand the thought process behind her emotions. We don’t need to know everything our protagonist is thinking, but just showing actions without any explanation just feels detached and un-engaging.
The DVD includes a featurette that deconstructs the narrative, which is probably a necessity for anyone wanting to understand all of the stuff they had forgotten about before the television series decided to clue the audience in. All eight episodes are included on three discs, along with the featurette.
Entertainment Value: 3.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6.5/10
Historical Significance: 6/10
Special Features: 3.5/10