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‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ Review: Michelle Dockery and Sienna Miller star in a twisted courtroom mystery surrounding privileges and politics

Although it is a famous man who is charged (hence the “scandal” part), the six-episode project is defined by two women: the lawyer who pursues the case and the wife who wants to stand by her husband but gets reason to doubt Hi M.

Adding a very British flavor despite the involvement of author / producers David E. Kelley (who echoes “Big Little Lies”) and Melissa James Gibson (“House of Cards”), the Netflix project focuses on Secretary of Parliament James Whitehouse (” House of Cards “). Homeland’s “Rupert Friend”, whose political and personal status is threatened when he is accused of raping an accomplice (“Aladdin’s” Naomi Scott), a scenario complicated by the fact that the two had an affair.

The accusation and related revelations come as an understandable shock to Whitehouse’s wife Sophie (Sienna Miller), who is plagued by images of the consensual connection while having a hard time believing that her husband could commit an act of violence.

In terms of proving it, the task lies with lawyer Kate Woodcroft (“Downton Abbey’s” Michelle Dockery), who takes a significant professional risk by instituting such a high-profile prosecution that has consequences for the ruling party.

“Anatomy of a Scandal” is directed by SJ Clarkson and does reasonably well in keeping the audience guessing, and does less in its liberal use of flashbacks regarding the elite private school that Whitehouse went on with the Prime Minister (Geoffrey Streatfeild) , suggesting a “Boys will be boys” attitude that prevailed at the time and that could have contributed to the bond between them.

At its core, the story is rooted in Dockery, who beautifully portrays a character who holds his own secrets; and Miller, whose outwardly idyllic existence is shaken in a way that forces her to question what she knows about the man she married.

As mentioned, there is a recurring quality throughout, and even the title evokes thoughts of something like Otto Preminger’s courtroom mystery “Anatomy of a Murder” back in 1959. It works well enough as pass-the-popcorn entertainment, while inviting introspection on changing ways of considering the past behaviors of privileged young men – an issue that has been well ventilated in recent years, perhaps especially around the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Granted, Netflix and its rivals have released fares with similar themes, both in dramatic formats and documentary series. Still, “Anatomy of a Scandal” overcomes its shortcomings well enough to lay the groundwork for what is destined to become an ongoing franchise of tightly constructed stand-alone thrillers.

The bones for that are clearly there. The trick that this first lesson in “Anatomy” demonstrates is to find the right wrinkles to deepen them.

“Anatomy of a Scandal” premieres on April 15 on Netflix.

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