Thoughts on the House of Cards trailer

Piers McCarthy discusses the trailer for House of Cards…

David Fincher and Netflix have been working on an American version of Michael Dobb’s House of Cards for some time now. Yesterday we were able to see snippets from the fruits of their labour with the first trailer.

The new series follows Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey), whose drive to become President leads him to unflinchingly tackle all of his superiors. Spacey is joined by Sakina Jaffrey, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Kate Mara and Corey Stoll as the supporting colleagues, family and friends. Spacey and Wright have significant billing but this clearly isn’t a star-studded picture aiming for massive commercial success. Instead, Fincher and the additional directors and producers are making a smart, refined television drama for a demographic, realistically, of adults aged 30 onwards (with some student and general politically-minded audiences to boot).

Tonally, House of Cards looks highly sophisticated, not only from the issues it’s dealing with but also from its aesthetic. Fincher frequently uses sharp angles in his frames along with a mustard and glaucous colour-tone; even with Fincher only directing two out of the 11 episodes, his style will imaginably run throughout. With Beau Willimon (writer and co-producer of The Ides of March) in amongst the team of 7 producers, the mood of Clooney’s political thriller/drama and Fincher’s 2010 film, The Social Network, have become beautifully compatible in the creation of this new adaptation. It looks sleek and entertaining. Plus, it will be a great new political television drama to fill the void since The West Wing ended.

Fincher is arguably one of the smartest and most critically adorned directors working in Hollywood today though, only now, has he turned his attention to politics. Many of his films deal with issues of obsession, pressure along with matters of deception and conflict – this will fit his filmography as perfectly as his serial-killer subjects do.

It all appears well crafted and with tight collaboration between known associates. Fincher previously worked with fellow producers Dana Brunetti, Joshua Donen, Eric Roth and, of course, Kevin Spacey. Brunetti was one of the Oscar nominees for The Social Network whilst Eric Roth wrote The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’s screenplay. Previous partners should allow for extremely lucid filmmaking.

Additional directors include James Foley (who worked with Spacey on Glengarry Glen Ross), Joel Schumacher (Batman & Robin but also well-regarded films such as Falling Down and The Client), Charles McDougall (The Office) and Allen Coulter (The Sopranos).

Spacey, apart from Fincher, is the stand-out name on this project and looks fantastic in the lead. Known for several distrustful and manipulative characters in the past (including John Doe in Fincher’s Se7en), Underwood will undoubtedly become a historical role for him. Already with lines like, “We’ll clear you from the heard and watch you die in the wilderness” and “That’s how you devour a whale: one bit at a time”, something about his callous performance will have him raking in the nominations and (hopefully) wins.

House of Cards is set to premiere on Netflix on February 1st, 2013.

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