‘The Riches’: Two for One


The premise of The Riches is that it is a show about con men–more specifically, a show about con men who lie as a way of life. It is a show about con men who are out of their element and have to think on their feet, about con men who can’t possibly prepare for every occurrence because they’re in unfamiliar territory.

Watching Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver play these con men (and women), it is possible to see the wheels turning in the characters’ brains.

It struck me last night that these must be some of the hardest parts imaginable to play on film–let alone in HD. These must be amazingly difficult characters to portray because the characters are supposedly improvising their lines. Oh, they’re slick, these characters, but just barely. They don’t have time to rehearse scenes or run lines.

In the hands of lesser actors, these characters–close up, on the big screen TV, not far away on a stage–would very likely come off as bad actors, ones who don’t quite know their lines. Instead, what we get are both the con men and their facades in each line.

So in last night’s episode, when Doug Rich was asked to provide an alibi to clear himself of theft, his first alibi was awful, although delivered with conviction; I found it entirely plausible that his Wayne Malloy character believed that it was the best alibi he could have come up with and that it might even work. That the two characters were played at the same time by one actor, and that both facets were discernible within the same line reading, pretty much blew me away.

I say, Cheers! To more Brits playing Americans!