‘Gold Digger’ Review: A Love Story of the Ages

When a romance blossoms between a 60-year-old woman and a man many years her junior, suspicions take root.

Julia Ormond and Ben Barnes

Photo: Acorn TV

Would anyone have troubled to make a television series about an all-consuming love affair between a 60-year-old woman and a man roughly 30 years younger if the genders were reversed? Not likely is the answer, as the creators of the knowing, polished and gloriously spirited “Gold Digger” (begins Monday, Acorn TV) seem to have grasped. That’s soon evident in the tale of Julia ( Julia Ormond ), newly divorced mother of three, who takes up with Benjamin (a stellar Ben Barnes ), a man about half her age whom she’s met outside of the British Museum. He’s charmed by all that she can tell him about the obscure statue missing from the exhibition, and the way she tells it, and also by something else having nothing to do with art history—the thing about her that caused him to begin chatting her up in the first place that will resonate, as a question, to the end of this story.

Gold Digger

Begins Monday, Acorn TV

Nothing of that resonance emerges in those opening scenes made irresistible by Ms. Ormond’s portrayal of a woman who hasn’t, for a long time, had reason to view herself as an object of desire by any man, much less one like the unselfconsciously gorgeous Benjamin. His attentions aren’t easy to take in, but that doesn’t keep her from responding fully, with speed and without obligatory hesitation—an encouraging introduction to this character. Julia may have been badly used by her wretch of a former husband, taken for granted by her semi-devoted and self-obsessed sons, but she knows who she is. More to the point, she knows who she isn’t obliged to be—-the kind of woman who falls back on conventional protest before she surrenders to the moment. There’s nothing cautious about Julia once that surrender has taken place.

There’s no doubt, from the first moment of this meeting—which takes place on her 60th birthday—where things are headed. Not, however, without Julia pausing, after the first fine careless rapture, to put the question to Benjamin: What did he want with a woman so much older than he? To which she received the not-unexpected answer that her age was irrelevant. It isn’t a query she makes again. But it is a moment ripe for the question implicit in this sharply observant work marinated in little ironies: If the 60-year-old in this romance were a male character, would an inquiry like the one Julia makes ever occur to him? Or the scriptwriters?

It helps that the Julia Ms. Ormond inhabits so persuasively is the kind of woman whose beauty is enhanced by her indisputably mature look—a factor that goes a long way in establishing the legitimacy of the passion that drives Benjamin. He sees the radiant smile, the eyes, the inviting assurance—and as he does, so do we.

None of which is to say that anyone in Julia’s aggrieved family is ready to concede anything legitimate about Benjamin, least of all her sons, instantly certain that their mother is being pursued for her money and her possessions, including a treasured country house, all of which they envision being ripped from their grasp. What other reason could someone as young as Benjamin want with their mother? A question they don’t bother keeping from her. In their panic they set about searching out his background and family—subjects about which there is almost no available detail, for reasons this intricately plotted series (writer, Marnie Dickens ) will in due course reveal.

Along the way it delivers commentary on the society to which the sons of this not-so-stable family belong. During their search for facts about Benjamin, someone notes, grimly, that the object of their hunt hasn’t got a single footprint in social media, and that this is, for someone of his age, a suspicious sign. In the view of Julia’s male children at least and, perhaps, that of the world they inhabit, if you’re not out there gibbering about your personal news on Facebook or outlets like it, there’s something amiss in your life and character.

These are children at peace with their insufferable father, Ted ( Alex Jennings ), now living with his mistress—Julia’s former best friend and ostensible cause of the divorce. This is, to the sons, situation-normal, unterrifyingly so, unlike the sight of their mother and a man roughly their age looking at one another with devouring eyes.

香蕉视频苹果下载A blend of romance and mystery, borne up by delectable touches of soap opera, the series races along charged with suspense—excruciatingly so, sometimes—from the first of its six parts to the last. This is the gold in “Gold Digger,” and there’s a lot of it.

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香蕉视频苹果下载 Appeared in the May 1, 2020, print edition as '.'