Flora Matlock finally learns how to sharpen a knife so keen her husband doesn’t feel a thing.
The Politician’s Wife is a coolly satisfying British television program involving political hypocrisy, personal corruption, sexual low jinks and revenge served cold. It's a mixture of cynical humor and serious political observations. It features great acting all around.
Duncan Matlock (Trevor Eve) is an up-and-coming Tory MP whose specialties are family values and ambition. He's married to Flora Matlock (Juliet Stevenson), who loves him and who has supported his climb up the Tory ranks for years. She's the epitome of the perfect political wife...smart, wealthy, loyal, socially adept but with a human touch, great at looking entranced at her husband on stage while he gives his trite speeches about values and family. When it's discovered he's had an affair with a former prostitute (Minnie Driver), Flora is devastated. Duncan pleads for forgiveness saying it was only a passing weakness. The Tory damage-control team, headed by Sir Donald Frazier (Ian Bannen), after weighing things for a bit, decides to swing behind Duncan. Sir Donald, an old friend, convinces Flora that her husband is a changed man. She agrees to stay with him.
Then she learns Duncan's infidelities go way back, that they are continuing, that he has a habit of using people for his own purposes, which includes Flora and the people who lead organizations trying to help battered women and families, one of Flora’s volunteer passions. Flora finally sets out to seek her revenge. She finds inner resources of such unexpected Machiavellian depth that it’s impossible not to smile in admiration. Duncan doesn't know what hit him. Flora then gently forces Sir Donald and his inner-party big wigs to make some cynical choices. I'm not sure there's a male politician in the bunch who comes off very well -- they all seem to be self-satisfied, self-serving members of the same club. Flora beats them at their own game.
Juliet Stevenson is a first-rate actress, and she does a superb job. She moves from devotion to hurt to forgiveness to a strong, smart woman setting up hidden revenge, all with immense believability. Her short speech before a group of Tory wives who call themselves The Conservative Christian Wives Club (this is after she has discovered the truth about her husband but is playing the loyal wife) is a funny, ironic piece of subversion. Trevor Eve is just about as good as the charming, believable, ambitious, hypocritical politician on the make.
"The Politician’s Wife" was shown in three installments and runs just over three hours. There's not a dull moment. This is the unedited UK version. The program was trimmed a bit when shown in the US to eliminate a flash or two of breast.