Scoop: Netflix Movie Review

Philip Martin's new film returns to talk about the British monarchy by investigating the concept of privilege and focusing on the importance of journalism free from any influence

Image Credit: Netflix

“An hour of television can change everything.” It is with this phrase that Sam McAlister convinces the Duke of York to grant an interview to the BBC on the Epstein scandal. This single hour represented a breaking moment in the contemporary history of the British monarchy. Scoop, the new Netflix film available from April 5 and directed by Philip Martin, tells the genesis of the famous interview with Prince Andrew on his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, convicted of sexual crimes and child abuse, and the fall of the monarch.

Taken from the book “Scoops: the BBC's Most Shocking Interviews from Prince Andrew to Steven Seagal” written by Sam McAlister, Scoop tells the behind-the-scenes story of the famous interview which aired on 16 November 2019 from two opposing points of view: that of the BBC editorial team, who at the time was going through a moment of crisis with widespread layoffs and in need of new ideas on the direction the network should take and on its own work ethic, and that of Prince Andrew, a man whose privilege makes him so confident to be convinced that his explanations, however inconsistent with each other and barely mentioned, are sufficient and that his imagination can be easily cleaned up. In the middle of these two poles, Martin also explores the decisive role of public opinion and the importance of moral ethics that should guide journalism, especially investigative journalism.

An interview that resembles a Western clash that investigates the powers of privilege and the importance of not being influenced by it

After The Crown, Philip Martin returns to talk about the English monarchy and its internal fractures with an essential, clean, and linear style that gets straight to the point. Scoop comes to life when McAlister (played by Billie Piper) manages to get the exclusive interview with the royal, an interview which is conducted by Emily Maitlis (Gillian Anderson) known for being frank and asking the right questions at the right time, those same questions that Prince Andrew (an unrecognizable Rufus Sewell) is unable to answer with the skill and cunning he believes he has.

The verbal clash between the two begins during the interview, but during rehearsals: the journalist, exhausted and nervous, meets with the BBC staff in a room where the dominant color is blue. A cold place that suggests tension, discipline, and rigor, all characteristics that Maitlis proposes again during the official meeting. On the contrary, the Duke of York needs constant guidance and is repeatedly reprimanded for the way he expresses himself, especially when he speaks about the victims. He and his secretary Amanda Thirsk (Keeley Hawes) are in a bright room and the prince is relaxed, sure of the outcome of the interview.

When the meeting between the two finally takes place, Martin structures it as if it were a Western duel made up of fights and responses, of knowing glances between those present both in front of and behind the cameras. The camera focuses on Prince Andrew and Maitlis, perfectly replicating the shots and rhythm of the original interview, and on the battle of glances between Sam McAlister and Amanda Thirsk. Andrea, however, falls alone. By echoing the atmosphere and dialogues of the original interview, Scoop manages to highlight how those who hold privilege believe they are above anything: law, common sense, morality, and ethics.

Image Credit: Netflix

Scoop: evaluation and conclusion

Scoop is a good film that highlights the importance of journalism, the one that wants the truth at all costs, the one without sensationalism, and which can change the course of events. It does so with a direction reduced to the essentials and with the sole aim of wanting to tell a story without too many frills, with photography also clean of virtuosity and made as linear as possible, as is the screenplay which focuses on a single main event and the causes that preceded it.

An honorable mention goes to the cast, especially Gillian Anderson whose marriage between the actress and Netflix continues to thrive. Anderson brings to life a journalist whose character is easily misunderstood and whose strong work ethic and pressing way of directing interviews are frowned upon solely because she is a woman. Emily Maitlis is very good at her job, but she is still considered arrogant and too cold.

Rufus Sewell is the weak link and not because of his acting. Scoop, like many other films based on real events, follows the thought that to best interpret a historical character the actor must resemble him. For Rufus Sewell, aesthetically very different from Prince Andrew, this means completely changing his features thanks to prosthetic makeup. A process which on the one hand allows him to be more similar to the former duke, on the other makes him rigid and mono-expressive. Characteristics that stand out especially during the climax of the film when he has to act alongside Gillian Anderson.


Scoop is a good film that highlights the importance of journalism, the one that wants the truth at all costs, the one without sensationalism, and which can change the course of events.
Overall Score