The Little Drummer Girl: The Spy Drama That Stole My Heart
You may not know this about me, but I love dramatic TV series. I thrive on them. Unfortunately, I also binge watch everything recommended to me, so I run out stuff pretty quick. When I went searching for something new, I found The Little Drummer Girl.
The Little Drummer Girl is a freaking spy drama. What more could you want? Espionage, thrilling action, questionable morals – I’m living for all of it. Before I started the series, I watched a trailer to see what I was getting myself into (and partially to hype myself up). I was enthralled when one of the characters stated, “You cannot stop the devil. Only the man performing his work.”
The Little Drummer Girl
So, what is the series about? It’s based on a book by John le Carré and directed by the talented Park Chan-wook, who’s best known Oldboy and The Handmaiden (two movies I adore).
The Little Drummer Girl is essentially about an actress, Charlie Ross, who’s pulled into a world she thinks she wants to understand. She’s like a lot of college kids out there – she wants to get involved with something without going too far out of her comfort zone. Considering it’s set in the late 1970s, it heavily revolves around the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
When Charlie first gets involved with the Israelis, she has no idea. In fact, one of them had been following her and her troupe to scope her out. Charlie is enthralled with him immediately (it’s the drool-able Alexander Skarsgård), but little does she know that he’ll change her life forever. Sorry to be cliché, but that statement has never been more accurate. Alexander Skarsgård, Gadi, turns this know-nothing actress into a spy so fantastic that she’d probably bring down the great James Bond.
Before I get into the actors, I want to talk about the genre. I’m not one for Jane Austin romance. I want action; I want adventure; I want a series that makes me think. That fits The Little Drummer Girl to a “T,” but it does have plenty of romance to soothe your soul.
First of all, the show literally starts out with a bang. The first few minutes, there’s a massive explosion, set by the Palestinian Liberation Organization. It kills a little boy, misses the target, and sets off a terrifying series of events.
I’m not going to lie when I say that the first episode can be a little confusing, but it’s meant to be that way. Charlie is the main character, so you’ll see everything through her eyes, and’ she’s confused when she enters this world. You’ll also feel everything she feels. Every time she questions her alliance, you’ll also question yourself. You start to wonder, “Who is the bad guy in this situation?” Just when you think you know the answer, the series shifts and turns your thoughts upside down.
For those who love romance, The Little Drummer Girl has it in spades (just not the saccharine-dripping kind). Charlie falls madly in love with Gadi. Then, as she learns more about the “bad guys,” she starts to feel very different. There are romantic scenes where you learn more about each character, and as the viewer, you become attached to everyone regardless of their side.
Basically, this series has it all, and it doesn’t linger in one moment so long that you get sick of it. That’s what I love most about it. The only downside is that it is a mini-series, so there won’t be another season. That being said, the series ends perfectly.
I’m not going to say it’s tied up neatly with a bow because that isn’t realistic. Without giving too much away, Charlie ends up where she started, but she knows a lot more and questions everything around her. She’s soul-searching but in a different way. It’s practical, and the ending actually feels like an ending.
The Actors and Actresses
I wanted to talk a little about the actors and actresses. One thing that drew me in was the fact it stars Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Shannon. These two dudes are at the top of my must-watch list. Unfortunately, neither of them really shined. Alexander Skarsgård’s character Gadi was pretty flat most of the time. You get the feeling he’s the carrot on a string for Charlie. He has feelings, but even they come out like a pancake.
Michael Shannon is one of the best actors out there, in my opinion. In The Little Drummer Girl, his character is pretty manipulative, and I got disgusted at how well he played each person like they were a pawn on a chess board. You get a feel for his character when he tells Charlie, “I am the producer, writer, and director of our little show.” At the same time, Shannon’s accent was atrocious, and his portrayal of an Israeli occasionally comes off as stereotypical.
Now that the bad is out of the way, I want to talk about the real star of the show – Florence Pugh. If you haven’t heard of her, you will soon. Pugh plays Charmian “Charlie” Ross. When she first pops up in the show, she reminded me of a young Rachel Weisz from her Mummy days. I adored Weisz, okay? I had a serious girl crush on her, so comparing Pugh to her is a big compliment. By the end of the series, her character has such depth that your heart will break for the girl. It takes a lot of skill for an actress to make the audience mirror the character’s emotions and thoughts.
I’m not going to say that this is the best series out there, but it’s certainly up there. There are times where you have to suspend belief to get through it, but if you don’t think about it much, you’ll be taken on a whirlwind journey. Everyone should give The Little Drummer Girl a shot. I found myself curled up with my laptop bingeing the series when I had a million other things to do – I had to know what happened to my characters, okay? Bottom line: Get ready to binge.
You can catch the full series of The Little Drummer Girl on SundanceNow.