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5 Reasons Why ‘The Offer’ Is Massively Underrated

Culture

The Offer is the new Paramount series about the making of The Godfather. And contrary to some sniffy reviews, here's why it's a must-watch.

For all the weighty cast that are in The Offer, it may still be passing under the cultural radar a bit, or rather, those in charge of the cultural radar have mostly been dismissing it. “Patchy, overlong…” the Guardian sniffed, a tone which seems to have creeped into many jaded TV journalists’ approaches to this 10-part drama on the unsexy platform, Paramount+. Not only that, but the Guardian also commented “It is very in the spirit of The Godfather to go long on time and spare few whims.” Ah, OK, so we have people who don’t like The Godfather writing about a series that is obsessed with every detail of The Godfather, and is aimed squarely at viewers who love The Godfather too. And that’s the truth of it – if you don’t like the film, this show is absolutely not for you. It is a series that doesn’t just tell the jaw-dropping behind-the-scenes story of the film, but continually references it in its dialogue, its scenes, even the themes…with a highly dysfunctional family of people trying to earn their slice of the American dream, even if it means a few casualties (not so much bodies (although there’s a few of those), more like relationships) along the way. As such, for actual Godfather fans it is an absolute delight. And really, there’s no disputing the film’s place as a true great. Overlong? Man, these TikTok-ers can’t handle a pre-Marvel film pace, can they?

Just to hammer home our point, here’s 5 reasons why The Offer is so good:

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1. Matthew Goode as Robert Evans

Matthew Goode has been consistently amazing in everything he’s done (Watchman and Stoker are particular faves), but this may be the most fun he’s had. Robert Evans is a gift, the head of Paramount Studios who played his life like he was starring in a movie – complete with one-liners, epic hustling and world-beating charisma – and was a pivotal fixture in the last great golden era of Hollywood in the 70s. He was the man who oversaw Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, Love Story, The Godfather 1 and 2, etc etc. His book, ‘The Kid Stays in the Picture’ is essential reading, hilarious, scandalous, gripping and Matthew Goode brings all of that to life with relish. He nails the Evans voice, but the true joy is the way he shows how personality can make impossible things happen. The whole series touches on this, how the indefatigability of people, and more than anything, the force of their being, is crucial to get big projects done, anywhere. As such, for all the fun and games, the series is an inspiring work, memorably embodied by Goode’s Evans.

Massive side-plaudits to Burn Gorman as Charlie Bluhdorn, the Austrian boss of Paramount owners, Gulf + Western. I mean, if Goode has a blast, check out this guy – at one point he scares away another exec by barking like a dog. Genius.

2. The Depiction of Hollywood in the 70s

Fans of this era will have much to enjoy with the depiction of the personalities involved, references to other big films of the time, and the music and style. This era – again, on the book front, read ‘Easy Rider, Raging Bulls’ – was one where the old studio system was usurped by the ‘Movie Brats’, a very loose collection of young and hungry film talent who wanted to make films their way, not as part of some old Hollywood system. Given a foothold by Easy Rider, these radicals, encompassing Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, William Friedkin, Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese, Robert DeNiro et al, really did cause a revolution in Hollywood (for a time at least), and showed artistic pictures could win over huge audiences. In a time when we’re once again dominated by big studio entities demanding film makers fit a certain system, eg Marvel and Disney, this era has never seemed more appealing. Sure, independent minded film makers can get adventurous projects made via Netflix and co, but back in the 70s, it was the big screen or nothing. They were holding their nerve and battling for their visions to make it onto screens, succeeding, for a time,  Different ball game and an absolutely gripping one to be reminded of.

3. The Eerie Al Pacino performance

Anthony Ippolito plays Al Pacino in way that may seems heavily eccentric, until you actually re-watch Pacino in the film and see how heavily eccentric he actually was in the early days. Ippolito not only nails the voice but the nervy intensity of Pacino and so many of those Method New York actors like De Niro and Dustin Hoffman embodied to such an astonishing degree.

4. Juno Temple

Now Miles Teller may be very effective as Al Ruddy, bringing an uncompromising swagger in a way that makes him seems about two feet taller than everyone else. But it’s Juno Temple as Ruddy’s assistant, Bettye, that really impresses. The show is way too canny to sideline the women in it but of course at that time, the women often were sidelined…which is where Temple comes in, with a charismatic performance that is somehow both playful and steely, and acknowledges that in this world you have to be playful and steely to not simply take on the men but to ensure anything gets done.

5. The subplot of the real mafia involvement

The Offer not only gives a great insight into the making of The Godfather but shows the involvement of the real mafia in the making of the film. Much of this involved the relationship between Al Ruddy and Joe Colombo, the boss of the Colombo crime family, one of the Five Families of the mafia in New York. He was the creator of the Italian-American Civil Rights League, which aimed to change the representations of Italian-Americans – this put him on a collision course with The Godfather production, which many Italian-Americans believed would put them in a bad light; particularly the mafia, even though, you know, they kind of operated in a bad light. Anyway, Ruddy smoothed things over with Colombo, removing all references to the word ‘mafia’ from the script, and the pair cooperated on the production and became friends (very close friends in the show, which amongst its many qualities, really paints a positive picture of male friendship in a way that you rarely see – sure there’s shouting and bravado, but also tenderness, affection and kindess). Anyway, Giovanni Ribisi is sensational as Colombo, nailing that mix of familial warmth and cold-blooded psychosis that makes us love so many screen mafioso.

Basically, don’t believe the naysayers. Mafia film fans are in for a treat. Everyone else: try Love Island.

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