Tag Archives: Jonah Hauer-King

World on Fire Character Review: Vernon Hunter

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. It has been said that the heart wants what the heart wants, regardless of what anyone else has to say. On World on Fire, Vernon Hunter (Arthur Darvill) is an RAF fighter pilot who has fallen in love with Lois Bennett (Julia Brown).

But Lois has a complicated life and is not entirely sure if she can return Vernon’s affections. She is still not over her ex, Harry Chase (Jonah Hauer-King), who is unaware that she has given birth to their daughter. When Vernon proposes, Lois is not quite ready to say yes or no. When Harry returns to England, he told that he is a father and rushes to the Bennett house. But Harry is turned away.

The last time we see Vernon, he has just returned to the base a newly engaged man. Lois was ready to say no to his marriage proposal, but changes her mind when his plane is the last to land. It looks like Vernon will be walking into the sunset with Lois and her daughter.

To sum it up: Many things have been said about love over the centuries. But if nothing else, it can be life changing. Vernon’s life changes when he meets Lois, forever altering the trajectory of his life. At this point, we don’t know what their future will look like, but we know that for the mean time, their love is the binding agent keeping them together.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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World on Fire Character Review: Jan Tomaszeski

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. When one’s country goes to war, no one is immune from it’s cold touch. On World on Fire, Jan Tomaszeski (Eryk Biedunkiewicz) is the youngest of three children.

His life is relatively normal, until the Nazis invade Poland. With his father, older brother Grzegorz (Mateusz Wieclawek), and older sister Kasia (Zofia Wichlacz) fighting for their country, Jan is sent to England with his brother-in-law, Harry Chase (Jonah Hauer-King). Left with Robina (Lesley Manville), Harry’s domineering mother, he is a stranger in a strange land. Clinging to the memories of his family and the hope that they are still alive, Jan is faced with a challenge that only occurs during war time.

Children, we are told, are resilient. They have the ability to bounce back emotionally and psychologically faster than adults. But that does not mean that the scars of the experience completely disappear. Though Jan is still quite young, there is something in him that keeps him going. Which I happen to think is an inspiration to us all, regardless of age.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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World on Fire Character Review: Robina Chase

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Losing a spouse is difficult by itself. Losing a spouse when your children are young is immeasurably harder. On World on Fire, Robina Chase (Lesley Manville) has lived most of her adult life without her late husband. Raising her son, Harry (Jonah Hauer-King) alone, she has ambitions to see him do great things in life.

But like many young men, Harry and his mother do not see eye to eye. She is almost relieved when he takes a job in Poland as a translator. But that does not mean she approves of his choices, especially when it comes to women. Lois Bennett (Julia Brown) is a local girl who Harry has been seeing for some time. After breaking up with Lois, Harry’s new girlfriend is Kasia Tomaszeski (Zofia Wichłacz), a young woman with who he met in Warsaw.

When Harry returns home after the invasion of Poland, he is not alone. He has come with his young brother-in-law. Robina is not happy with her new charge or that Lois is carrying her future grandchild. But the coming war and the changes to her life will open this woman’s once cold heart after years of tucking it away.

To sum it up: Robina is a woman changed by circumstance. First, by the early death of her husband, and then by the changes brought on by the war. It is through those changes that she reveals the loving, giving heart underneath the formerly cold exterior.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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World on Fire Character Review: Kasia Tomaszeski

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. War changes our fate like nothing else can. Forced to make decisions that would never even be considered in peacetime, we know that the chance of not surviving is high. In World on Fire, Kasia Tomaszeski (Zofia Wichłacz) is a young woman without a care in the world. Working as a waitress and living in Warsaw with her family, she is also in love with Harry Chase (Jonah Hauer-King), an English translator who is working in the city.

Then the Germans invade and her world is forever changed. When her father and brother, Grzegorz (Mateusz Wieclawek) join the Polish army, Kasia has two excruciating choices. Now married to Harry, she can go with him to England, not knowing his complicated love life. Or, she can stay and fight for her country.

Choosing to join the Polish Underground, Kasia sends her little brother to England in her stead. Driven by her mother’s murder, she knows that she could be betrayed, captured, tortured, and killed at any moment. But it is a risk that must be taken to free Poland. When we last see Kasia, she is reunited with Harry, but they are surrounded by German soldiers, their fate unknown.

To sum it up: The decisions Kasia makes are far from easy. The consequences, whatever they maybe, are at best, dangerous, and at worst, deadly. But for her it is the only choice. For her family, for her country, and most of all, for herself.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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World on Fire Character Review: Harry Chase

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire.  Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

War has a way of making those who live through it grow up quickly. Youth and inexperience, simply due one’s experience, gives way to maturity brought on extraordinary circumstances. On World on Fire, Harry Chase (Jonah Hauer-King) is a young man at the beginning of World War II. He is idealistic, romantic, and eager to see the world. He is also dating Lois Bennett (Julia Brown). Their relationship ends when he is offered a job in Poland.

A talented translator, he takes a job in Warsaw and gets involved with Kasia Tomaszeski (Zofia Wichlacz). All seems well until the Germans invade. Harry knows that the only way to save Kasia’s life is to marry her and get her to England. The question is, how will he explain all of this not just to Lois, but to his mother, Robina (Lesley Manville)?

At the train station, Kasia does not get on the train with Harry. Instead, she shoves her baby brother into the train car and watches as the train leaves the station. Back home, Harry has to faces a brokenhearted Lois and his mother, who is shocked by the presence of the boy he is traveling with. After a one night stand with Lois, she gets pregnant. But she does not tell him that they are to become parents.

Returning Europe, he joins the battle at Dunkirk and then goes back to Poland to find his wife. Their joy at being united is all too brief when they are surrounded by German soldiers.

Starts at 3:04

To sum it up: Harry’s character arc is an interesting one. He is not completely naïve, but his perspective comes from the relatively comfortable left he has led up to this point. The war changes all of that. He still retains some of that idealism. However, he learns to fight for what he believes in and who he loves, and what it takes to lead.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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The Windemere Children/World on Fire Review

For some, World War II and the Holocaust may seem like it was ancient history. Those in the know would say that that period was not so long ago and continues to have an affect on us, 80 years later.

Last night, PBS aired two different programs: The Windemere Children and World on Fire.

The Windmere Children, a television movie, takes place just after World War II. Britain has taken in 1000 child survivors of the Holocaust. 300 of these children are taken to an estate in England to recover. They are traumatized, both physically and emotionally. They are also most likely the only survivors from their families. It is up to the adults around them to help them become children again. Played by Romola Garai, Iain Glenn, and Thomas Kretschmann, the therapists and teachers are doing everything they can to help their charges begin to heal.

World on Fire is a miniseries that tells the story of ordinary people whose lives are turned upside down by the war. Starring Helen Hunt, Jonah Hauer-King, and Sean Bean, this miniseries follows a group of individuals from various countries as they face the dangerous realities of war. Hauer-King’s character is a young man from Britain in love with two women. Hunt plays an American journalist trying to do her job in Europe as the shadow of war grows ever closer. Bean’s character is a working-class father doing the best he can to take care of his children.

I loved both. The Windemere Children is both heartbreaking and uplifting. World on Fire stands out because it tells the stories of ordinary people who must do extraordinary things to survive.

I recommend both.

World on Fire airs on PBS Sunday nights at 9.

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The Song of Names Movie Review

Music has a unique way of reaching all of us.

In the new movie, The Song of Names (based on the book of the same name by Norman Lebrecht), Martin (Tim Roth) and Dovidl (Clive Owen) were as close as brothers when they were boys. But Dovidl’s past and his secrets have torn their relationship apart.

Their first meeting comes as World War II is on the horizon. As a young boy, Dovidl (Luke Doyle) is a wunderkind on the violin. But he is a Jew living in Warsaw. His talent takes him to England and a shared bedroom with Martin (Misha Handley). After the war is over, the boys are now young men (now played by Jonah Hauer-King and Gerran Howell) and are as close as ever. But as Dovidl becomes known as a music prodigy, he must also grapple with his faith and the fate of the family he left behind in Poland.

Decades later, Martin is searching for his friend, who has all but vanished. Can he find Dovidl and discover the secrets that he carries with him?

I loved this movie. I loved it because at its heart is a story of friendship that starts during a tumultuous time in history. As the years pass and the reality of their world is exposed, both Martin and Dovidl must grapple with their experiences. I also loved the ending. It was not a happy ending as Hollywood would see fit, but it worked for the movie.

I recommend it.

The Song of Names is currently in theaters.

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Ashes in the Snow DVD Review

War has a way of forever changing one’s life.

The 2018 movie, Ashes in the Snow (based on the book Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys) takes place during World War II. Lina (Bel Powley) is an average teenage girl living in Lithuania with her family. She is also a gifted young artist with a dream and the potential to see that dream become a reality.

Then Lina, her family and thousands of others are deported to Siberia. It is her art and her growing relationship with Andrius (Jonah Hauer-King) that provides a sense of normalcy in a situation that is as far from normal as one can get. Will Lina survive or will she perish with thousands of others?

I read this book previously, so I had an idea of what was coming. The movie is just as good as the book. It is a story that within the genre of World War II stories, is not told as often as it should be. Granted, like many book to movie adaptations, the film does not match the book scene for scene. However, that does not detract from the power of this story and the strength of this young girl who finds the will to survive when many did not.

I recommend it.

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Little Women Miniseries Review

For many young bookworms (especially if they are female), Little Women is one of the literary gateway drugs to other classic novels.

Last night, the first episode of the new miniseries aired on PBS.

Stepping into the shoes of the immortal March sisters is Willa Fitzgerald (Meg), Maya Hawke (Jo), Annes Elwy (Beth) and Kathryn Newton (Amy). Emily Watson plays Marmee and Jonah Hauer-King plays Laurie, Jo’s bestie/the boy next door.

I have mixed feelings about the first episode. Written by Heidi Thomas (best known as creator and show runner of Call The Midwife) was tasked with quite a challenge: condense the narrative as it is in the novel into a miniseries. While she hit all of the right narrative notes (including not making the story too sweet and allowing all four of the March sisters to share the spotlight), I just felt like something was missing. While I completely understand this is a miniseries and not a feature-length film (but then again, not all film adaptations of beloved books adhere 100% to the narrative in the source material), I just feel like something is missing.

Do I recommend it? Possibly yes.

Episodes two and three consecutively on May 20th at 8pm EST on PBS. 

 

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