What to say if you liked it
A brave, innovative noirish thriller in which a young policewoman investigates the murder of her mother, for which her recently released father is the prime suspect.
What to say of you didn’t like it
A shallow drama often so ponderous some scenes take longer to develop than the evolution of ape to human.
What was good about it?
• The eerie atmosphere enhanced by the fast editing, minimal incidental music (mostly just a lone, elegiac piano), and giving each scene an introduction almost like a theatrical play. It was most reminiscent of the recent BBC3 drama Conviction, which also often bleached the screen with sunlight.
• The fact that it’s always very windy especially in the scenes on Justine’s roof where we became so mesmerised by the gusts that we hallucinated that whichever direction her hair blew in pointed to the next murder suspect.
• The acting is of a notably high quality, most keenly observed in Emma Pierson as the mixed up Justine who expertly displayed the detached methodology of a police officer while at work, and the contrasting grief of a bereaved daughter. And these traits were developed and twisted as her relationship with her estranged father progressed – initially her police instinct told her he was lying about the death of her mother, but later on she cultivated a less cynical attitude based on a natural familial bias towards him.
• Kevin McNally was brilliant, as usual, playing the recently released James Hopkin, while Kieron O’Brien, Robert Pugh and Max Beesley were good in their roles too.
• Because each scene is so deliberately composed the emphasis is, unusually for a murder thriller, wholly on the characters rather than the plot, such as when Justine goes to meet her father at his hideaway at a derelict swimming pool it evokes her childhood memories of the place. There are also a number of scenes utterly superfluous to the plot that are included to advance the characters.
• The very weird scene when Justine meets her father at the derelict swimming pool and they have a conversation speaking at normal volume despite him standing on the second storey balcony about 25 metres away.
• The novel avoidance, so far, of dramatic clichés such as a progressing love subplot, sex, intense interrogations and even the two deaths were committed off screen.
• We haven’t a clue who the killer is. James and Justine’s boss DCI Pugh are too obvious, which just leaves Justine’s brother and Jake, her former colleague.
What was bad about it?
• Very little actually happened in 90 minutes. Essentially: Justine almost gets shot, her mother dies, she finds her father, her boss wants her to reveal where her father is hiding, and a bent copper who testified against Justine’s father is murdered. If
edited by the Ultimate Force production team it would have lasted about 15 minutes, 10 minutes of which would have been Justine taking a completely unnecessary shower.
• Because of his last memorable performance as a merciless neo-fascist in Spooks we were immediately prejudiced against Kevin McNally’s character, but warmed to him as we were gradually calmed by the absence of any deep fat fryers.
• Slow motion shots detracting from the studied realism of the piece built up so carefully in other scenes.