Franklin and The Sympathizer: The Two Must-Watch Historical Series

The grand narratives of history have always been a wellspring of inspiration for cinema, and today, television series are no exception. This week, two series are particularly catching our eye, set against the backdrops of the American War of Independence and the Vietnam War. However, what truly draws attention to Franklin on Apple TV+ and The Sympathizer on the Warner Pass are their stellar lead actors: Michael Douglas and Robert Downey Jr. Quite the lineup!


Franklin with Michael Douglas

No surprises here: the colonists succeeded in founding the United States and defeated the British at the end of the War of Independence in 1783. What's lesser-known is how they achieved this feat with the help of France and the determined diplomatic efforts of Benjamin Franklin. Adapted from Stacy Schiff's book "A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America", Franklin begins in 1776 after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The founding father of America arrives in France, accompanied by his grandson, William Temple (Noah Jupe), tasked with the heavy responsibility of trying to break free from the British while the war still rages on. How? By attempting to persuade Louis XVI to form an alliance with America. However, the road to freedom is long. Franklin endeavors to navigate through the French nobility, juggling between seduction and political maneuvering. Betrayals by his close associates, false promises, secret trips to Versailles, and assassination attempts—all unfold over eight long years before Benjamin Franklin achieves glory.

Who better than Michael Douglas (Fatal Attraction) to portray this towering figure of history? The Oscar-winning actor brilliantly showcases the intelligence, witty humor, and vulnerability of this 70-year-old historical figure. Not to mention the splendidly recreated grand festivities and gallant scenes that allow Douglas to display his legendary charm—still as potent as ever! Here, he impeccably serves this fascinating and thrilling historical and political reconstruction, while the script avoids falling into French caricatures or historical inaccuracies. Terribly relevant in this presidential election year in the land of Uncle Sam...

Available on Apple TV+.

© Apple TV+


The Sympathizer with Robert Downey Jr.

It's about time we see a Vietnamese perspective on the Vietnam War in a major American production! From Saigon to Los Angeles, the series follows the "Captain", a biracial man born to a Vietnamese mother and a French father, who becomes a communist double agent. Infiltrating the South Vietnamese secret police closely linked with the CIA, he is forced to exile himself to the United States after the fall of Saigon and the end of the war. There, he must monitor sympathizers of the Republic of Vietnam. But the series, adapted from the eponymous novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen, is much more than a simple tale of espionage and war. This thriller unveils the protagonist's quest for identity, wonderfully portrayed by Australian-Vietnamese actor Hoa Xuande. Hypnotic with his blue eyes, he oscillates between seduction and madness as he grapples with his dual heritage, biracial appearance, two countries, languages, best friends, and enemies who become close. As his values are challenged, doubt overwhelms him over the course of the episodes.

Facing this young talent is the incredibly talented and freshly Oscar-winning Robert Downey Jr. (Oppenheimer), portraying no fewer than five different characters! Each embodies the Captain's worst nightmares and all the worst aspects of the United States: a CIA agent devoid of morals, a Hollywood director who wouldn't have survived #Metoo, or even a politician capable of any lie. Unrecognizable, RDJ is a true chameleon who elicits both horror and disgust. The result? A politically charged satire, at times unsettling and captivating, with dazzling performances from the actors. A must-watch!

Available on the Warner Pass via Prime Video starting April 15.


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