Life & Culture

The Offer TV review: Entertaining drama about the making of The Godfather

A charismatic cast tells the tale of how Jewish and Italian filmmakers came together to create the cinema classic


Paramount+ shows Giovanni Ribisi as Joe Colombo in a scene from "The Offer,"(Nicole Wilder/Paramount+)

Paramount + | ★★★★✩

This is a review, about a TV show, about a film, that’s based on a book. That only two of the concerned are widely regarded as the artistic pinnacle of their particular medium (I’ll give you a clue; it’s not the book. Or TV show) illustrates how excellence isn’t automatically a transferable asset.

In fact it seems easier to make something great out of a lesser art work: think Ed Wood, The Disaster Artist or The Last Temptation of Christ.

The other way round’s trickier, for example the recent decent Mank about the writing of Citizen Kane. Positioning yourself next to a giant will only serve to make you seem smaller. So constructing a TV series around the making of The Godfather is a rather risky undertaking.

The Offer, part of the launch of the new Paramount+ streaming service, puffs its chest out far and stands up high on its tippity-toes over ten episodes, managing to just about not be totally eclipsed by its subject matter. It’s helped by a charismatic cast, led by Miles Teller, seemingly now back from exile with this and Top Gun.

Have producers realised that tapping into his arrogance can serve the right character well?

It’s certainly a quality that his Al Ruddy, eventual producer of The Godfather, has in spades, which combined with insight and a disregard for Hollywood conventions, propels him from computer programmer to co-creator of Hogan’s Heroes, to producer on the lot of Paramount, where fate takes its course.

It’s apparent that the rest of this cream of character actors are having a blast portraying their world-famous peers, aided by non-flashy direction and a budget that allows for an accurate depiction of that time period.

Saying that, the credit sequence shots of Paramount studios in a Paramount production for Paramount+ can all get a bit meta. But what should put this on your watch list is that it has an interesting story to tell.

If Hollywood is going to reflect upon itself, it’s a good thing it turned here to show runner Michael Tolkin, himself part of Hollywood history and writer of the definitive tale of the machine, The Player.

It’s a wonder that any film ever gets made, and the impact of luck is given its due, but for all the many, many elements to come together and combine to perfection seems miraculous. When you’re being shot at, more so.

Two of the key factors focused upon here are Italians and Jews, and unlike the recent debacle of the newly-opened Academy Museum of Motion Pictures erasing our existence, our impact is felt here.

With The Offer you get to see how Jewish and Italian filmmakers came together on one side to create the film, and on the other criminal side, to prevent it. It serves as an engrossing tale in its own right, whilst at the same time also allowing for a deeper appreciation of the source material. How could you refuse that?

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