The BBC have been bigging up this two-part drama for ages. I read not one but two entries on various Beeb blogs, and it was all over the other TV blogs that I tend to read. I couldn’t sit back and let it pass, so I tuned in.
From the very first image, like the one above, it was clear that this wasn’t just a regular drama. It was all about the cinematography, and every single scene was sculpted to perfection. From where the focus was, to framing, to how many extras were in the background, each shot appeared to have been thought out. A lot of time and effort went into storyboarding this.
Maybe it was too much effort. The entire thing seemed unnatural to me, which was completely at odds with the way the actors and the scenes went. There was little dialogue, the scripts must have been about two pages long. Silences weren’t abandoned, conversations tipped into the awkward side more often than not, and that felt very real. There was no rush and the emotions were allowed to play out as you would expect, but how often is curtailed on TV.
With the emphasis so much on how it looked, rather than what was coming across, I felt ever so slightly disconnected from the story. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen - but was I supposed to be watching art or TV?
If the first part was moody, the second part was much louder. From focusing on Lindsey’s side of the story, we switched to Robert’s perspective, and I found that difficult. Jack O’Connell did a great job, and he improved one step up on his character in Skins, but I still don’t like that persona at all. Loud mouth, beer drinking, swearing every sixth word, generally quite a troubled teenager - a boy who wants to be a man. He played the part well, but I can’t say I cared for the character all that much.
There was a lot more dialogue in the second part, and it seemed to detract from what went on before. The build up was great, the conclusion not so much. I didn’t mind the happy ever after ending, but only because the entire thing had seemed like a fairy tale. Is it really conceivable that two school-going teenagers could support themselves in a flat, spend their days at the pool as one trains to compete for her country whilst the other babysits and watches on? I don’t know. It didn’t seem very realistic, which again was at odds with how the scripts had gone before. Above all else, though, I’m glad they stayed together.
Overall it was good, and the only summary I can really make is that I recommended Mr C had a quick look… for the filmwork, certainly not for the story.