Clive Owen in Two Terrific Streaming Series

Clive Owen fans (and there are many) are in for a treat. Two streaming series give the talented British actor a chance to show off his considerable skills in very different roles. On AMC, Owen stars in Monsieur Spade, which relocates Dashiell Hammett’s famous detective from San Francisco in the 1920s, to France in 1963. On Hulu, Owen plays a supporting role in A Murder at the End of the World, set in a dark and frigid Iceland in current time, with lots of flashbacks. The AMC series has six episodes, the Hulu one, seven. Each includes numerous characters and plots that require the viewer to pay close attention (perhaps to even view an episode more than once to understand what’s happened). 

In Monsieur Spade, the detective travels to the small French village of Bozouls to bring a young girl, Teresa, to her father. Crashing his car into a tree, Spade is rescued by Gabrielle, a beautiful young widow played by Chiara Mastroianni, the daughter of screen legends Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve. A few years later, Gabrielle dies, leaving Spade her estate, which in addition to a mansion and vineyard, includes a small nightclub. Needless to say, Spade sees no reason to return to San Francisco and spends his days swimming naked in the pool, working on his French, and, like the Bogart Spade, smoking constantly, even thought he’s been diagnosed with emphysema. Two developments prevent Spade from leaving his detective life behind: the brutal murder of six nuns at a local convent, and the disappearance of a young Arab boy who is believed to be a genius code breaker. Adding to the complications, one of Spade’s nemesis appears, placing him on guard.

Besides breathing difficulties, Spade is not as quick on his feet, meaning he will have to use his mental skills more than his physical ones to stay ahead of the criminals. The supporting cast, many of whom speak mostly in French, is excellent. As Teresa, Cara Bossom matures from a defiant teen into a young woman with a nose for detecting. Denis Ménochet is the police chief, Patrice Michaud, who Spade works with but doesn’t totally trust. Then there are the two quintessential Brits played by Matthew Beard and Rebecca Root, who pretend to be mother and son, but are actually spies, also looking for the Arab boy.

Each episode is a feast for the eyes, with beautiful outdoor shots of the French countryside, and shots of the interiors, whether Spade’s mansion, the mysterious convent, or the atmospheric nightclub. But the main attraction is Owen, whose rouge good looks do Dashiell Hammett proud.

Owen’s character in A Murder at the End of the World has the Spade swagger, but through the seven episodes we are left to wonder: good guy or bad guy? Owen plays Andy Ronson, a Elon Musk-type who once a year gathers together some of the best creative minds in the world for a think-fest. This time around the meeting is held in Iceland. Darby Hart (Emma Corrin, who played Princess Diana in the fourth season of The Crown), is surprised to get an invite. After spending her early years following around her father who was a medical examiner, Darby knows her way around a crime scene, and with her boyfriend, Bill (Harris Dickinson) had been tracking the Silver Doe Killer. Bill, however, tired of the transient life, and Darby hasn’t seen him for years – until he also shows up at Ronson’s conference. Everything about Ronson’s Icelandic location is high tech, cold, and impersonal. A Siri like voice is eager to handle even the smallest request from a guest. But that constant presence leaves little room for privacy. When Bill dies, Ronson’s explanation that he overdosed, doesn’t convince Darby. But her investigation puts her in the crosshairs, with little possibility of leaving the compound.

Ronson has a wife, Lee (Brit Marling), and a child, but even the affection he shows for his family does not convince Darby he isn’t a murderer. Flashbacks fill in more of Darby’s history, while her present interactions with the other “geniuses” at the meeting illustrate how her powers of observation are finely tuned and may save her, and others, from the dangers that lurk in the cold Iceland compound. 

Two very different series, two chances, to enjoy the charismatic Clive Owen.

Top photo: Bigstock

About Charlene Giannetti (689 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her last book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "Life After You," focusing on the opioid/heroin crisis that had its premiere at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, where it won two awards. The film is now available to view on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other services. Charlene and her husband live in Manhattan.