The Offer: what is the improbable behind-the-scenes series of The Godfather worth? (critical)
A strange behind-the-scenes biopic of the production of Francis Ford Coppola’s cult film, which fantasizes them more than it tells them. See it today on the new Paramount + platform.
Whether The Godfather is a legend of cinema, it is first of all because it is one of the greatest masterpieces of the 7th art. But also because the story of its production is an incredible and glamorous thriller that is hardly believable. A myth that is transmitted in Hollywood from generation to generation, and that the Paramount studio wanted to bring to the screen, in a mini-series for its Paramount + platform, which finally arrives in France this Thursday, December 1.
Told from the perspective of Al Ruddy (played by Miles Teller of Top Gun 2), it follows the adventures of an ambitious young Hollywood producer who, after a first flop with Robert Redford, tries to revive himself by adapting Mario Puzo’s book, which is then a hit in bookstores. This Italian-American describes the culture in which he bathed and the mafia of the east coast, to the great displeasure of Frank Sinatra and the New York “Capos”, who do not appreciate the way in which they are portrayed in the work of the one they call “the traitor”. They will do everything to stop the film project carried by Ruddy and a young filmmaker named Coppola…
Every day spent on the set of Godfather was “the worst day of his life….” says Al Ruddy often. And it is in the middle of this crazy period, somewhere between the end of the sixties and the beginning of the seventies, that we plunge The Offer. A glitzy and sexy Hollywood, as Michael Tolkin, creator of the acclaimed Escape at Dannemora, described with refreshing naivety. As he had already done with Rocketman Where Bohemian Rhapsodythe director Dexter Fletcher walks his camera in this dreamlike biopic, which does not really want to rub too close to the raw truth, preferring to tell the collective imagination.
In this reconstruction à la Ryan Murphy – in the vein of his Hollywood for Netflix – The Offer assumes to tick all the boxes of the clichés of the LA of the time and its emblematic stars. The series uses and abuses name-dropping: for a moment, Ali MacGraw skips the casting of Love Story before Robert Redford landed on the set of Butch Cassidy and the Kidwhile Frank Sinatra berates the mafia, while the very young Al Pacino leaves Broadway and Francis Ford Coppola sinters with the executives from the Studio…
Everything is so fictionalized that it almost becomes ridiculous. Each replica is lunar, like a line copied and pasted from Wikipedia, which absolutely had to be put in the script. Each dialogue has the air of shock phrase or slogan, associated with the Godfather. Each scene seems to be a re-enactment of a cult moment from the legend that would probably have happened like this. The Offer takes the myth at face value and restores it in a didactic way on the screen, swinging everything we would want to hear. Like these four-handed scriptwriting sessions – between Puzo and Coppola – seriously clipesque.
But this eye-catching side is perfectly assumed by the series, which plays less the reality biopic card than that of the fantasized popular legend. Taking it through this prism, The Offer looks like a fascinating success story with people accents. Or how the creator of Papa Schultz succeeded in producing The Godfather against all odds. The formidable Miles Teller, charismatic and inscrutable, has a lot to do with the guilty pleasure we take in devouring this crazy story. Well supported by the discreet charm of Juno Temple and a host of supporting roles who visibly have fun replaying this mythical story. As he celebrates his 50th birthday this year, Don Corleone still hasn’t finished dreaming.
The Offer in 10 episodes, to see in France on Paramount +.