Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “An unfaithful rich man walks into a bar and picks up a lonely, desperate girl.” Oh. You have? What about: “An infantile, rich woman feels flustered by pretty shop staff”? Or: “A pompous rich man makes a move on one of his ‘troublesome’ female workers”? Surely not: “An egotistical rich woman has an opportunity to give charity to someone desperately in need”? Last one. It’s a peach. “A young rogue of a rich man gets a poor woman pregnant”?
Okay, so for anyone raised in a world in which the social stratifications of Downton Abbey can nestle in our collective cultural nexus next to 37 seasons of Technicolor CSI crime-porn, the punch lines to all of these class tales invariably culminates in the lifeless body of an “Eva”, a “Daisy”, an “Alice”, or a “Sarah”.
In the recent BBC adaptation of English dramatist J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls (2015), almost everyone but the butler “did it”, as all of these scenarios are woven into one audaciously compounded 90-minute dirge about moneyed morality and social responsibility.
Written at the end of World War II, An Inspector Calls is a pre-World War I drawing room drama in which an Inspector Goole (as in ‘Ghoul’; not Batman’s nemesis, Ra’s al Ghul) arrives at the home of the Birlings, a well-to-do self-made Northern English family. The Birlings are celebrating an engagement/strategical alignment of factory-owning families. But with Goole’s (David Thewlis) appearance, a systematic disassembly of their corrupted capitalist belief system whirls into place. The Inspector sequentially elicits confessions from each family member regarding their own personal contribution to the downward spiral and eventual suicide of a young woman, who had been found dead earlier that night…
The full 1,700 word version of this review is published at PopMatters.com, where you can read the rest of the article for free.