When a government minister (Rupert Friend) is accused of having an affair with and subsequently raping a junior member of staff (Naomi Scott), he and his wife (Sienna Miller) try to put on a united front as a prosecutor (Michelle Dockery) tries to bring him down.
Based on the novel of the same name by Sarah Vaughan, Anatomy Of A Scandal is certainly plucking the social strings of modern-day Britain. From the frankly woeful track record on prosecuting sexual assault to the out-of-touch, privileged elitism of those in power, this story could very well be playing out in the press right now.
As the trial plays out, Friend’s portrayal of MP James Whitehouse is infuriatingly smug, as he almost matters or factly tells his wife and mother of his children of his five-month affair, before the Tory party spin doctor arrives to assess the situation and informs him that it “might even win some fans among the older male voter.” When the accusation of rape is made, Miller’s Sophie has to stay by her man’s side while trying to ignore the stares and muted conversations at the school gate.
Throughout the trial, we flashback to Sophie and Jame’s time at university, where he was a member of the Libertines, a bunch of arrogant toffs who will one day be leaders of the country and get up to all sorts of abhorrent behaviour.
While Anatomy of A Scandal certainly raises some interesting points, it subsequently fails to make good on any of its convictions. There’s some frankly ludicrous plotting, camera work and dialogue, which can be forgiven since it’s clearly going for a more salacious trashy vibe, but the way it ultimately treats the female characters in this story is unforgivable. The woman at the centre of the sexual assault claim is marginalised as a plot device. That said, there’s a lot of great acting talent on display here that does elevate the story.
Watchable but forgettable, Anatomy Of A Scandal geared itself up to take some big swings but failed to land any real punches.
Streaming on Netflix