Lady Judi Dench won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Shakespeare in love (1999) despite appearing onscreen for just eight minutes. Alan Arkin won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his 14 minutes on screen in Little Miss Sun in 2007. And of course, Mr. Anthony Hopkins won top honors at the 1992 Oscars for his brilliantly twisted 16-minute turn as Hannibal Lecter in 1991 Thesilenceofthelambs. A character can have a huge impact on a story by maximizing their screen time and squeezing every last drop out of their limited time on camera.
In Devil’s hourcurrently streaming on Prime Video, Pierre Capaldi (Doctor Who, suicide squad) deserves a mention along with the aforementioned actors for his limited but poignant performance on the small screen as Gideon Shepherd in the Steven Moffat-Executively produced psychological thriller, currently on the rise, to critical and fan acclaim.
Who is Gideon Shepherd?
Devil’s hour is a complex blend of drama, romance, sci-fi and the supernatural. Its non-linear storyline jumps forward then back, and benefits from the fine performances of its British leaders Capaldi, Jessica Raine (Call the midwife, Partners in Crime) as Director of Child Protective Services, Lucy Chambers, and Nikesh Patel (Four weddings and a funeral) as lead detective Ravi Dhillon.
When the two find themselves baffled by a series of mysterious disappearances and murders, they come face to face in an interrogation room with the oddly mercurial Gideon (Capaldi) handcuffed to the table and dressed in a burgundy prison jumpsuit. . And although he only appears in a handful of scenes throughout the six-part series, when he enters the frame, he demands your attention. The character’s compelling story of a mysterious drifter suspected of committing gruesome crimes is gripping enough, but the way Capaldi makes the most of the role is superb.
Capaldi plays a different kind of time traveler
Most know Peter Capaldi as the twelfth doctor of the british sci-fi phenomenon, Doctor Who. From 2012 to 2017, his enigmatic portrayal of the time-traveling adventurer was a remarkable turning point, and proof that he’s certainly no newcomer to the quirky, slightly eccentric character game. In Devil’s hour, Capaldi really does get the creeps going as a man who pretends to relive his life over and over again on an endless loop. Each time Gideon dies and starts the same life again, he makes notes in a diary that will allow him to change people’s past, present and future lives.
When framed for the murder and kidnapping of Lucy’s son, Oscar, Gideon pretends to do it for the greater good. He argues that the people he murders are necessary preventive measures to save the lives of many more good and decent people, and that the people he kidnaps are better off under his protection because he knows the alternative is far worse. . As he sits across from Chambers and Detective Dhillion in a dark, cramped interrogation room, his cadence and mannerism pull you like a butterfly to a flame. Is he just crazy? Or will he be able to convince Lucy that his deeds are somehow noble and save lives by eliminating those who will commit heinous acts in the future?
When Detective Dhillion accuses Gideon of being delusional and asks him if he thinks he’s a time traveler or a fortune teller, Gideon stops and replies, “Neither, I’m both,” and when asked if he can see the future. he replies confidently: “I don’t see it. I remember.” It’s his cryptic answers to questions like these that make his presence both thrilling and disturbing. The dim room lighting accentuates her cropped white hair and gaunt, sunken face. It’s a simple but very effective tool that director Johnny Allan (The Irregulars) employs in order to enhance and maximize the strangeness of its antagonist’s bizarre tales.
Gideon is a Machiavellian mix of compassion and control
The only things that keep Detective Dhillion and Lucy from rushing to the table and strangling the enigmatic prisoner are the moments when Gideon expresses compassion and remorse for the toll his actions have taken on Lucy. As she believes he has kidnapped her son, he holds all the cards. If she wants to know where he is and why he was taken, she has no choice but to play her game and jump through the psychological hoops he has built. Because each of his answers carries so much weight, it allows him to run the interviews at his own pace, and while he is sincere about the purpose of his assignment, it is at the same time infuriating that he is not content not tell the truth.
When Gideon appears on screen (often to try to provide an explanation for his actions at the end of each episode), his presence really packs a visceral punch as he provides both the questions and the answers to the biggest questions. from the Serie. Capaldi does all of this while portraying himself as an unreliable narrator whose motivation remains unclear no matter how he presents his intent to a skeptical audience. It’s beautiful acting that builds up the tension and constantly serves to propel the story forward. Fans of stories like Thesilenceofthelambs, Sevenand Prisoners will get a kick out of Capaldi’s delightful turn as a do-gooding villain who plays torturous games of cat-and-mouse with the protagonists in Devil’s hour.