Did we like it?
Amid all the tinselly telly, this was welcome bleak midwinter fare, but Dominic Savage’s drama – an indictment of the inequalities in Britain today – lacked the punch to prick the consciences of the pricks in the City now wheelbarrowing six-figure bonuses back to their enormous homes, bouncing over the prone homeless on the way.
What was good about it?
• Anne Marie Duff is emerging as the best actress of her generation. Here, she played fragile pregnant mother Michelle who has run away from a violent husband (whose threatening phone messages had real menace). The best moments came when she was alone with pre-teen daughter Danielle (a great performance by Gemma Barrett)
• Robert Carlyle can still perform his seething psycho act brilliantly.
• The have and have-not juxtapositions worked well, moving from City men knocking back £450-a-shot brandy to a homeless man shivering in an underpass; switching from worries about the arrival of the marble polisher to the fears of a battered wife.
• The improvised dialogue gave the drama an authentic feel.
• The direction was beautiful. London looked great and every scene was a perfect picture.
What was bad about it?
• The drama had nothing really to do with inequality – people from any class and background could be battered spouses, battered children, ex-cons or desperate refugees.
• We’ve never been huge fans of Colin Firth’s distracted acting style which came in abundance as he played City worker Mark who became a conscientious meddler after a row with a homeless man, who he later handed £100 (only for the man to be beaten and robbed) and causing more harm than good to a needy teenage girl from Leeds.
• The clumsy, clichéd climax – Carlyle’s bitter character Robert kills Mark – was just a random, rather gratuitous act.