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Judi Dench and an all-star cast populate this miniseries about the agonies and ecstasies of the U.K. in the early 20th century....
Acorn Media / 405 Minutes / 1980 / Unrated / Street Date: June 26, 2012
Acorn dives back into the vaults here with Love in a Cold Climate, a beloved 1980 import that spends its eight episodes investigating the trials, tribulations, loves, and losses of aristocratic life. Addressing the Britain of the early 20th century in a very Evelyn Waugh capacity, this adaptation of Nancy Milford's two novels (Love in a Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love) is perhaps a bit talky and sedentary (there's no way this miniseries could capture the grandiose nature of its time and place without a billion dollar budget), but as we all know, you don't need dollar bills to find intriguing entertainment on screen.
Newcomers to the telefilm will immediately recognize Oscar winner Judi Dench, who appears here as Aunt Sadie, but this is no starpower vehicle. The charms of Love in a Cold Climate stem from its clear-headed exploration of a cross-section of society at the time of its narrative events. We watch unbearably spoiled young girls adapt their frivolousness to the hells of war. We watch society matrons and gentlemen with monocles balance manners and propriety with the onslaught of a cultural upheaval unlike anything they've ever seen. In short, Love in a Cold Climate allows viewers a vantage point from which to watch the super-elite get slowly (and often positively) shredded down to size.
Love in a Cold Climate isn't a cheetah-fast piece of television, so those looking for proto-Downton Abbey rapidity might balk at the miniseries' almost defiantly languid pace, but like so many other telefilms of its age, once you spend an hour with these folks, you'll quite likely want to see where their story arcs take them. This TV-on-DVD set is by no means a must-have commodity, but it nevertheless offers steady, informed melodrama and a snapshot of an age gone by that frequently makes for wonderfully engaging throwback programming.