National Treasure ep 3

Same as last week, then, with another accomplished but faintly pointless episode: more flashbacks, more jumpy editing, more jarring camera angles, more woozy and out-of-focus shots, all heightening the sense of dislocation and strongly implying that something bad has happened, but not yet providing any actual hard-and-fast clues.

Paul continues strongly to protest his innocence, a – tactical but inaccurate? – willingness to admit consensual sex with his main accuser, Rebecca Thornton, notwithstanding, and Marie remains uncomfortably equivocal. It may be, mind you, that one of the flashbacks is intended to point us towards believing Paul to be guilty: we’re shown appalling behaviour towards a younger Rebecca by one of Paul’s showbiz buddies; Paul doesn’t actively participate in it but doesn’t discourage it either. If you were determined to be charitable you could say it was crass but of its time; either way, though, it stubbornly resists being refashioned into a smoking gun.

The best scene by a mile is, of course, the one near the end, when Paul (Robbie Coltrane in mesmeric form) recounts, in a strikingly even voice, the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father. That he’s telling his daughter Dee about it once again throws up the possibility – as he acknowledges – that people, were they to find out about it, would have little difficulty in concluding that the abused became the abuser. But we’re not any closer to working out whether that is actually the case; and, to be honest, I’m not as invested in finding out as I was at the end of the first episode.


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