“Maxton Hall: The World Between Us” Review: Romance Between A Scholarship Student And A Rich Heir

Maxton Hall - The World Between Us Review 2024
Maxton Hall - The World Between Us Review 2024

Amazon Prime introduces “Maxton Hall: The World Between Us,” an enthralling German-language romantic series that fuses forbidden desires, class distinctions, and young love. Directed by Martin Schreier and Tarek Roehlinger, the show is adapted from Mona Kasten’s novel “Save Me.” The show stars Harriet Herbig-Matten as Ruby, a bright scholarship student who is not discouraged easily, and Damian Hardung as James Beaufort, an arrogant heir to a wealthy family. Set at an elite private school, the show focuses on how unequal power relations and social frontiers hinder their relationship as Ruby and James are helplessly drawn towards one another.

The Story

The show opens with glimpses of a wild night: there are empty bottles thrown all over the place, discarded clothes, and a phone ringing in the distance.

James Beaufort wakes up after a wild night only to find out that he is next to Elaine Ellington, who is a fellow student. His friends are having fun in the backyard as he steps outside his big house. But their fun ends abruptly when James’s sister Lydia rushes to him in tears over something Ruby Bell said about her that could ruin her.

The Beauforts go to Maxton Hall, and so does Ruby Bell, a scholarship student. With rich kids surrounding her, she tries not to be noticed while aspiring for admission to Oxford University. She was talking earlier in the day about a recommendation from her teacher, Graham Sutton, and planning a welcome event for new students with her friend Lin Wang.

Ruby witnesses Sutton kiss Lydia, and everything changes. Lydia pleads with James for help, but Ruby wants to do the right thing and refuses a bribe from James. She now needed a new teacher who could recommend her, as she feared that Sutton’s involvement would devalue it.

Ruby decides to ask Headmaster Lexington for help, who agrees to provide the recommendation if the welcome event goes well. Meanwhile, James becomes angry when he sees Ruby talking to Alistair Ellington, his rival on the lacrosse team, and threatens her.

At the welcome party, chaos erupts when dancers disrupt the event. Lexington calls Ruby and James, who had been seen paying off the DJ, into his office. To avoid consequences, they must work together to plan the next event.

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Directional and Technical Aspects

Maxton Hall is like a never-ending talk fest, where characters yap away endlessly without saying anything of substance. Even in the English dub provided by Prime Video, the overwhelming chatter feels like a tidal wave of words. Ruby Bell tries to stand up to rich bullies scene after scene, only to inexplicably change her mind in the end. This would have been bearable if it weren’t for the repetitive expressions on Harriet Herbig-Matten’s face.

Philosophy class arguments that pretend to be profound but end up sounding like snobby twits arguing for argument’s sake, for example, not to mention Ruby’s narrative voice in which she employs strange metaphors. Believability goes right out of the window as episode one concludes with a monologue about “chained elephants.”

It is surprising that Daphne Ferraro, known for his work on Dark, an intricate Netflix series, created and wrote Maxton Hall. Nevertheless, Maxton Hall could not be more different from it. While there are well-written and intricate teen dramas out there, Maxton Hall just doesn’t measure up. Other recent YA hits like Young Royals and Red, White, & Royal Blue have done this better than Maxton Hall did in terms of division according to class or culture.

In the story, it is apparent that there is a stark difference between Ruby and James’ families. At their homely abode, Ruby rejoices in being together with her parents, who adore her. Helen and Angus, despite Angus becoming paraplegic due to an accident while riding his wheelchair bike, are filled with love. Ruby loves her younger sister Ember, who has high hopes of becoming a fashion designer and is full of life. The family scenes, particularly with Angus, radiate genuine warmth.

The Beaufort mansion, on the other hand, is all coldness and harshness. James and Lydia know too well that they live under their father Mortimer’s hawk eyes. Hence, they are always under pressure from high expectations. Mortimer, who happens to be a rich man with insatiable ambition, concentrates only on his son’s future role within the family business empire but ignores Lydia, completely imposing stringent rules against her will. It can be said that James does not have a real father figure except for Percy, who works as his chauffeur; this shows how ridiculous his position actually is.

Maxton Hall may not have been as self-aware as Gossip Girl, but it portrayed its affluent characters’ world as both desirable and absurd, giving us a glimpse into their rarified lives.

Actors Performance

The first episode of Maxton Hall has all the clichés you’d expect, and then some. We’ve got the girl-next-door protagonist, the wealthy boy with a heart of gold, and the unlikely love between two pretty people who are attractive to each other because they are both good-looking. Nevertheless, the acting is in dire need of some expression, forget about character depth. Even though there’s marginal improvement by some members of the supporting cast, no amount of talent could breathe life into such hackneyed lines.

Hardung and Herbig-Matten work well together on screen and have great chemistry, which is the central point of this show’s popularity. But sadly, they’re stuck with a script that doesn’t let them do much beyond looking good. The supporting cast does an even worse job when it comes to acting and character development. There is certainly a void in this area when it comes to good performances.

Audience Appeal

If you like romantic teenage dramas set in high schools or boarding schools, then “Maxton Hall” will be a good choice to binge on a Friday. For those who resonate with shows like Gossip Girl or Elite, they are likely to find themselves attracted to its depiction of a privileged world and the forbidden love affair it revolves around, although it’s not as good, so keep your expectations low. 

What is more, the romantic aspects therein are sexually suggestive, thus making it inappropriate for younger viewers. This is not a family-friendly show. This is mostly targeted at young adults and older.

Final Thoughts

There is no sense of individuality or panache in the series. The entire storyline centers around a gala where everyone is in Victorian clothes. Despite all the hype, it turns out to be boring. Maxton Hall is nothing else but stale pop music that springs up out of nowhere and then vanishes again.

All in all, it looks like a patchwork quilt made by someone who kept changing his mind about what kind of fabric he wanted to use. I doubt that there was anyone with actual artistic passion involved in this adaptation; it rather seems like something that came from an algorithmic suggestion box for profit-maximizing purposes alone. If you like this genre and troupe, the story is pretty straightforward, and you can watch it. However, don’t expect any stellar performances or storylines. This is just pure drama and entertainment without any substance.