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The Offer

Created by Michael Tolkin

(Paramount+, 2022)

Review by Tolula Dada


Paramount+ arrives fashionably late to the already overcrowded streaming market with its stylish new series, The Offer, telling the tumultuous behind-the-scenes story of the making of The Godfather movie. In this high-stakes, 10-part series, we discover how one of the most iconic mafia films of all time was almost never made – no thanks to the real-life mafia.

Set in the 1970s, it follows inexperienced producer, Al Ruddy (played by Miles Teller), given the daunting task of adapting bestselling novel, The Godfather, to revive Paramount’s ailing fortunes. Just as Ruddy starts to hit his stride, he comes under attack from notorious New York mob boss, Joe Colombo, who fears the prospect of a successful film could not only be bad for business but would damage the public image of Italian Americans.

If this series wasn’t based on true events, it would be a hard sell to explain why anyone would be prepared to take on the mob just to make a movie. The joy of this series, however, isn’t so much in what happens, but how – because we all know that the film gets made in the end. This series takes us on a wild ride, where we see the clever and inventive ways Ruddy overcomes the constant obstacles thrown in his way – fighting not just to make a great film but for his actual life. 

The series is very much set in a man’s world, with few complex female characters in the mix – less still people of colour – but Juno Temple is pitch perfect playing Ruddy’s streetwise secretary Bettye McCartt. British actor Matthew Goode is the epitome of 70s excess playing feisty, flamboyant studio boss, Robert Evans, delivering some of the wittiest lines throughout. Although his portrayal sometimes veers dangerously close to Austin Powers-like campness, there’s real pathos in Evans’ fight to stay on top as the corporate vultures circle.

The Offer is an entertaining romp through 1970s Hollywood – from the clothes to the cars, and even the questionable sexual politics – with all the visual allure of Mad Men. With a glittering cast of supporting characters – from a hacked off Frank Sinatra to the inimitable Marlon Brando – there’s plenty of tabloid intrigue and Tinseltown folklore that film buffs will love.

Making a film is a lot like running a gauntlet, and following the ducking, diving, problem-solving, cockfighting, power struggles, writer’s block, and good old-fashioned blood, sweat and tears that go into finishing The Godfather whilst out-manoeuvring the mafia makes this an entertaining weekend binge watch. As a writer, the emotional heart of the series for me was seeing Francis Ford Coppola’s struggle to avoid being fired from the film that would eventually become a modern masterpiece. In many ways, The Offer is a love letter to the artistic spirit, besieged by the commercial pragmatism of show business; a tug-of-war between talent and producers that still resonates.