The Last Tycoon
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
Someone struck gold in the Amazon and they did it with The Last Tycoon. Great show!! If you love classic Hollywood magic and glamour, the sexy style and grace of the 1920s and 30s, and damn fine acting, you’ll love this show.
The Last Tycoon is based on the final (and unfinished) novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It features Munroe Stahr (Matt Bomer), natural story man and whiz-kid of the Hollywood movie-making machine as he endeavours to make the perfect picture and turn his fledgling studio into a success. Along for the ride and sometimes even in the way is Pat Brady (Kelsey Grammer), the studio’s senior partner, aspiring producer Cecelia Brady (Lily Collins), daughter of Pat, and Kathleen Moore (Dominique McElligott), Munroe’s love interest.
First and foremost, the best thing about this series is the acting. This might be TV but it feels like the silver screen, it’s that good. No cheesy performances here, it feels like each and every actor is putting everything they have into their role and it’s magical. I swear it’s like I’m watching a 9 hour movie which never gets old. Each and every major character is someone we want to follow, someone we want more of. Each could be the center of their own story and we’d happily follow it. To have so many all together is like holding a handful of jewels.
Matt Bomer is absolute genius as Munroe Stahr. He’s handsome and dashingly cool, so kind and generous that he’s good to a fault, yet he’s also sharp and commanding and utterly in control when it comes to doing what’s best for his movies. It is impossible not to root for him. He’s the golden boy every good guy wants to be and every girl wants to be with, whether they’re good girls or not.
He is powerful and, at times, invicible. And yet, he also has an achilles heel, a heart defect that could kill him at any moment. So it feels as if this golden boy is living on borrowed time, which could run out any second. So there’s a feeling of dread hanging over it all, an ephermeral feeling to each triumph, a bittersweet joy to each love, a feeling of impending tragedy.
This works brilliantly. Not only does it give the story drama and tension, but it’s a visceral reminder to all of us that this is how life should really feel for us all. Life is not permanent, we are all temporary, and we should be living as if it is, with greater passion and following our dreams.
Lily Collin’s Cecelia Brady is movie magic come to life. I LOVE THIS GIRL! That face, that look, it’s as if she stepped off the silver screen herself in 1935, a stylish Hollywood star, cute as a button, sweet as candy and yet as tough and smart and playful as they come. She’s no pushover, she’s ambitious, hardworking and won’t take hell from anybody. She’s the kind of girl you marry and thank your lucky stars she actually likes you too. Did I mention I love her? Frankly, she could support her own show. Having her alongside Matt Bomer’s Munroe Stahr is a brilliant one-two knockout punch. I want more of her! I want her and Munroe to run a studio and kick ass together.
One of my favourite things about both Munroe and Cecelia is that they both have dreams. Not only that, but they pursue them with determination and passion. They’re undeniably good people, deep in their heart-of-hearts and on the surface too. They’re people we can believe in and we want their dreams to come true because they deserve the success and happiness they work so hard for.
Kelsey Grammer, everybody’s favourite doctor for so many years, a TV and film icon who has always been a fan favourite, is indespensible as movie magnate Pat Brady. He’s gruff, heavy-handed, a rumbling volcano always about to erupt and frequently angry, yet, deep down, he’s got a heart which is a complex mixture of sweetness and poison. Kelsey Grammer plays him wonderfully, giving the character excellent depth. He’s sort of the series villain, but sort of an anti-hero, both someone you root for and yet someone you hate. He struggles between selfishness and redemption. And it’s exactly what the story needs to offset pretty-boy hero-type Munroe Stahr.
Munroe Stahr is also a complex individual. And while mainly good, he’s got a dark side too. So we need someone to balance him and having some one-dimensional bad guy would have ruined things. Having Pat Brady be somewhat rotten, yet also have his good moments, is exactly the kind of character we need. By having two complex and opposite characters face off, and having them equal in power and ability and good/evil, it elevates both to new heights and makes the conflict infinitely more interesting.
Munroe’s romance with Kathleen (Dominique McElligott) is a fairytale, a Cinderella story. It’s every little girl’s dream as she’s discovered working in a diner and then quickly elevated to the studio’s brightest new star. Dominique plays her well and her development and subsequent tragedies and exposed secrets are believable and heartbreaking.
Jennifer Beals plays Margot Taft in only 3 of the 9 episodes, and yet she is as memerable as anyone in the show. The Last Tycoon wouldn’t be nearly what it is without her gem of a performance. Her awesome character is so much fun and incredibly sympathetic and Jennifer is Oscar-worthy in that role.
Rosemarie DeWitt, playing Pat Brady’s wife, Rose, is his perfect foil at home. She has great depth and, just like every other major character, her own personal story is gripping and makes us want to see more.
A huge thanks to all the actors involved! Wonderful performances and I hope we get to see a lot more of you soon!
Beyond the acting, the sets and cinemetography of The Last Tycoon are perfect. Sure, it’s easy to film Hollywood in Holywood, but they are so authentic to the era. Great soundtrack and everything is deliciously stylish. Again, despite being ‘just’ a TV show, it feels as if we’re stepping into a world with as much weight and colour as a movie. Whether it took a lot more money or skill than tv shows are usually blessed with, I’m glad, because this is one show that’s very easy on the eyes and absolutely rewatchable.
I want to discuss the story in depth, I really do, but how do you do that without giving it all away with spoilers? Let’s just say that the story is really well done. And it doesn’t suffer from that horrible modern tendency to make every episode feel like you’re rushing through all kinds of empty action only to get to yet another cheap cliffhanger at the end. Instead, it’s a solid, well-paced 9 episode story that we can get immersed in and enjoy without feeling unnecessarily on edge at the end of each part. There are twists and turns and secrets revealed as characters are explored. There’s joy and tragedy, excitement and despair.
I voted for this pilot when it first aired and though the wait for the full show was long, I am ever-so-glad it finally got produced. I think it’s a winner and I hope Amazon sees that too. I hope that one season is just the tip of the Hollywood iceburg to come.
Second season, please!!