The tagline for HBO’s new based-on-a-true-story telefilm Longford (premiering Saturday night) is “The only thing more shocking than her crime was his crusade to free her.” Myra Hindley’s crime was murdering children with her lover in England in the ’60s, a killing spree that traumatized the nation; the aristocratic politician Lord Longford’s astonishing, controversial crusade was arguing that she should be rehabilitated and released from prison.
Longford (the brilliant Jim Broadbent) was also, bizarrely, an anti-porn crusader who happened to be a devoutly Catholic believer in redemption. The story line (from a screenplay by Peter Morgan, who was behind The Queen and The Last King of Scotland) follows Longford’s interactions, in prison visits and through correspondence, with the seemingly repentant Hindley (Samantha Morton).
Longford feels eerily contemporary in its obsession with the idea of evil. This gripping, nuanced drama explores the limits of faith — in God, in humanity, in the very idea of hope.
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