House of Cards
Director: David Fincher
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Kate Mara
Year Released: 2013
House of Cards reminds us that in the game of politics, everyone can be played. Never before has Washington looked so sexy or politics so interesting
Kevin Spacey plays an ambitious Democratic congressman and the House Majority Whip, Francis “Frank” Underwood. Frank is sure to be the next Secretary of State, at least he thinks it is meant to be until he is told that the promises made to him are being revoked. This isn’t taken lightly by Frank and the wheels of the Washington machine begin to move.
Enter Kate Mara’s character, Zoe Barnes. An ambitious reporter that pitches the idea of a behind the scenes look at the back-room dealings of American politics to her bosses. They dismiss her ideas until she finds an “unnamed source” in Frank Underwood. Zoe and Frank form a symbiotic relationship where he feeds her information he wants released, she gains notoriety and he is able to further manipulate the political landscape. Zoe cannot let the identity of her source be known and her loyalty to him is tested very early on, a test she passes and is able to remove the soon to be Secretary of State from contention.
Frank picks up another card through the drug and alcohol fueled exploits of Rep. Peter Russo, a likable enough fellow indulging in a little office romance, as well as cocaine. Frank first plays this card to much benefit by creating a independent source of verification of Zoe’s earlier exposure of the Secretary of State.
The writing is superb and perfectly tailored to the directing styles of David Fincher. Dark, gritty and human characters fit the color and tone of what David Fincher does so well. This isn’t The West Wing, this is politics turned dirty and exposed to the muted light of public viewing.
Kevin Spacey has adapted the Southern twang that he used so well in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, that voice and the proper manner in which he conducts himself makes Spacey a true Southern Gentleman even as he looks into the camera and talks about how he is going to feed his opponents to the dogs. Both hyperbolic and believably literal, Spacey delivers an amazing performance well into the series.
I am only halfway through the season, but I have not been able to stop watching since I first pressed play on my remote. Netflix has really shown what they are capable of with this series, I hope it attracts the attention that it deserves and there is more to come down the road. Very adult, very non-network television, this is what the future of episodic film entertainment has to offer, and the offering looks fantastic.