From its slick advertising fabrics (one thing FX has at all times excelled at), one may be expecting a frightening mystery set in a convent within the Himalayan mountains. If you already know concerning the novel (or have possibly observed the 1947 movie adaptation), you’d be expecting extra of a mental mystery threaded with forbidden want. One may additionally song in anticipating an uplifting tale of nuns beginning a project college the place others have failed. It may be a few disaster of religion. Too lengthy to be a film and too quick to meet as a miniseries, this “Black Narcissus” dabbles in being the entire above, and, alas, doesn’t absolutely be triumphant at any of them.
Nevertheless it does not deserve a thumbs-down overview, both. Thank you to a couple superb and every now and then gripping performances — particularly from its lead, Gemma Arterton — “Black Narcissus” stays intriguing whilst by no means slightly attending to the purpose of riveting. Even if it drags, it’s nonetheless superbly shot (a just right little bit of it on location in Nepal) and visually compelling. For no less than an hour or two, that’ll do.
Arterton stars as Sister Clodagh, a disciplined younger Anglican nun residing in British-ruled India with the sisters of St. Religion. Clodagh receives orders from her awesome, Mom Dorothea (the overdue Diana Rigg, in one in all her closing roles), to steer a bunch of sisters to a far flung village within the Himalayas and open a convent college at Mopu — a hulking, former space of in poor health reputation perched on a precarious cliff.
Mopu is owned through Common Toda Rai (Kulvinder Ghir), who hopes the sisters will repair the compound and train the native youngsters, succeeding the place different missionaries have mysteriously failed.
Clodagh and her sisters arrive to the daunting job of repairing now not handiest the constructions, however mending cross-cultural family members with the locals as neatly. Within the drafty and darkish corridors, they’re faced day-to-day with the construction’s spooky previous; the everlasting housekeeper, Angu Ayah (Nila Aalia), stokes the weirdness as neatly their anxieties. “Black Narcissus” spends a lot of its time putting in ghost tales and hinting at spirit ownership, after which now not actually handing over in that regard. The miserable setting of Mopu, mixed with the onerous paintings and howling winds, takes its toll: Sister Clodagh turns into chilly and preoccupied along with her temptations (which she resists thru self-flagellation), whilst the impressionable Sister Ruth (Aisling Franciosi) has become a self-absorbed brat.
What robust affect has those girls in this sort of state?
A person. He’s Mr. Dean (Alessandro Nivola), a every so often pleasant and every so often aloof British expat, temptingly good-looking in his antique J. Peterman garb, who manages the within sight tea manufacturing unit, lives in a cabin down the way in which and turns into the sisters’ depended on information to the whole lot from native customs to solving the taps.
As “Black Narcissus” slowly (too slowly) works its solution to an anticlimactic froth, it’s disappointing to find that all of it comes down to 2 nuns going bonkers over a man. (Fanatics of Nivola’s paintings, particularly the 2005 movie “Junebug,” might also swoon over Mr. Dean — particularly when he barges in on Christmas Eve to drunkenly harmonize with the sisters’ staid rendition of “Silent Night time.”) Sexism, in conjunction with a irritating level of repression (we will additionally name it chastity, if you happen to like), must be anticipated when the supply subject matter is 80 years previous.
For the reason that that is FX, on the other hand, one can’t lend a hand however marvel what this adaptation may have gave the look of with some zhushing from Ryan Murphy, or one in all his acolytes. Give them a haunted mountain fortress filled with pent-up nuns after which stand again and watch the sparks fly. Extra must occur right here, and it by no means does.
Black Narcissus (3 episodes, about 4 hours) airs in its entirety Monday at eight p.m. on FX.