When it comes to movies and TV, I’m usually pretty copacetic.  I’m picky about what I’ll watch, but after that I have low standards, and I’m generally pretty good about accepting things as they are.

However, when I encounter something that I love – no, love – then I become obsessive.  I watch it, then I watch it again.  And again.  And play it in the background.  I look up information about the series.  Glom the actors’ past work.  Dig through IMDB.  Etc. etc.  My most recent obsession has been “Sherlock”, the BBC TV series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, who are absolutely brilliant.  But in glomming both of their works, I came across the TV movie “Stuart: A Life Backwards”, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy.  And man, new obsession here.

You may remember Tom Hardy as one of the guys in “Inception”.  He also played an MMA fighter in “Warrior”, was Bill Sykes, Robert Dudley and Heathcliff on TV, and will be the villain in the new Batman movie.  Honestly, I didn’t remember him in “Inception” (I didn’t find the movie terribly memorable), but I will definitely remember him in “Stuart”.

Stuart Shorter is an “ex-homeless, ex-junkie psychopath” with muscular dystrophy who meets Alexander Masters, a Cambridge PhD student working in a homeless charity.  Alexander, a poncey upper-middle class twat played to subtle perfection by Benedict Cumberbatch, decides to write Stuart’s biography.  The first draft is rubbish, according to Stuart.  “Why don’t you write it backwards”, he says, “like a Tom Clancy novel? Then people can figure out what murdered the child I was.”

The result is an absolutely stunning performance by Tom Hardy.  Stuart is a mumbling, frightening, pathetic character whose sad history is interspersed with the present.  Tom Hardy’s incarnation of Stuart is often incoherent, incredibly self-aware, sweet, smart, and utterly lost.

I don’t often watch TV – actually, never would be a closer estimate.  (I borrow things from friends and buy DVDs, and they’re always movies.  Never shows.  I don’t have the patience.)  But “Stuart: A Life Backwards” blew me out of the water.  I’m reading the biography right now, which is equally good; together, they have given me a view of homelessness and addiction that I have never encountered before.  I highly recommend both.

Have you seen Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, or Martin Freeman’s work?  What’s your obsession of the moment?

– Jean AAR

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I live in Seattle, Washington and work as a legal assistant. I remember learning to read (comic strips) at a young age and nowadays try to read about 5-6 books a week. I love to travel, especially to Europe, and enjoy exploring smaller towns off the tourist track though London is my favorite city in the world.