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Goodnight Henry

average rating is 4 out of 5


William Hemingway


Posted on:

Oct 9, 2022

Film Reviews
Goodnight Henry
Directed by:
Isher Sahota
Written by:
Isher Sahota
Joseph Marcell, Ryan Gage, Sharon Rooney

In the early hours of 18th October 1865 the then Prime Minister, Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston did indeed shuffle off his mortal coil, so when Goodnight Henry tells us that the events depicted within the short film 'occurred in truthful actuality – sort of', there is at least that. Everything else, however, is up for discussion as writer/director Isher Sahota fills us in on what could have happened that fateful night.


Mr Pageant (Marcell) is the mouthpiece of the Prime Minister and when we meet him he is busy hammering out the details of a trade/taxation agreement with the French Ambassador, Godefroi while the errant elder statesman is otherwise engaged. Godefroi (Gage) is not happy about the deal and feels he should be dealing directly with the Premier but Mr Pageant is a steadfast figure who handles the Frenchman with the condescension he thinks he deserves.


When a sudden scream is heard echoing through the halls of Brocket Hall, Mr Pageant reluctantly leaves the negotiations and sets off to find out what is the matter. It seems that the elderly Lord Palmerston has been getting his balls polished in the billiard room by Rosalind (Rooney) the maid and the exertion has finally been too much for him, leaving him dead and in a compromising situation. And that damned deal still hasn't been signed.


What follows is a web of intrigue and deceit as the three interested parties each try to wrestle what they can from the situation before Lady Palmerston gets home and scuppers the whole affair. The script keeps things tight between the three main characters as they bare their teeth at one another and display their jet black underbellies, each vying for position as they manhandle the Prime Minister back to somewhere more respectable.


The whole scenario is obviously played for laughs and the fine elegance of the surroundings contrast beautifully with the filthy underhandedness of the personalities involved. A lot of care and attention has been given to the lighting and the colour in the scenes, with Adam Singodia's cinematography managing to enrich the sumptuousness of the lavish country pile as the foreground blazes forth out of the inky blackness of the shadows beyond.


The acting is nothing short of exemplary with each character being played down to a T by the seasoned professionals who inhabit them. This is helped by their precise casting in roles that feel familiar to them and will therefore in turn feel familiar to the viewer. Joseph Marcell will be best known to the world as Geoffrey the butler in The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, and again here he plays a forthright, outspoken underling with an air of grace and nobility about him. Ryan Gage offers a wonderful French accent which he most likely perfected in his role as Louis XIII in a recent TV adaptation of The Three Musketeers, while also leaning into his other famous role as Alfrid Lickspittle in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy (2012-2014). Then there's Sharon Rooney, the breakout star of My Mad Fat Diary who shines as Rosalind, another character who could be looked over and pushed around by others but who is more than capable of standing up for herself.


In lesser hands Goodnight Henry could have turned out as a campy, unremarkable affair but with the talent on show, both in front of and behind the camera, it's easy to see that the production team have managed to make nearly all the right choices. While there is still an air of Horrible Histories or Upstart Crow about the film, it provides a rollicking twelve minutes which should keep even the most pedantic historians entertained throughout.

About the Film Critic
William Hemingway
William Hemingway
Short Film
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