This BBC Wales/S4C production is very much a Welsh project, though aired on the BBC, and is available via the iPlayer in the UK (for now). One of the base criteria for actor selection was apparently that they had to be able to speak Welsh as in some of the (rural) scenes the dialogue is indeed delivered in Welsh with English subtitles. It’s not the majority of the on-screen time by a long shot, so don’t let that put you off. In actual fact, having done it this way adds much authenticity to it. How often we complain about inappropriate badly executed accents/dubbing etc!
What’s not good about that is that the pool of actors from which the players can be picked is reduced when that becomes a criteria - and in some cases, that shows. Some of the actors in some of the minor roles are not very convincing and it certainly feels like they’re making up the numbers, not there by talent, but because they can natter the lingo.
Laying all that aside, it’s a cracking production, a very enjoyable edge-of-the-seat thriller, very well executed, interesting dark and sinister storyline and observation of how people can behave when subject to complications of jaded socialisation and mental health problems.
We know pretty much from the beginning who the offender is, who, because of the above, snatches women, locks them up in his cellar and tries to ‘own’ them forcing them to be a part of his life and form a relationship with him. A plot not dissimilar from The Collector from 1965 (which I reviewed at https://goo.gl/8PwWqC) some decades earlier.
What complicates the plot here is that our anti-hero lives in a remote farmhouse with his daughter and mother, who’s roles in the process unfold as we are served up more information during the 8 one-hour episodes. I probably shouldn’t say much more about the plot here for fear of spoiling things for the potential viewer, but in some ways it does become a formulaic crime thriller with DI chasing baddie etc.
What I found most interesting about this production, however, was the direction and cinematography. It almost felt as if there were guest directors picking up individual episodes as some of them were highly stylised and atmospheric, focusing on just a part of the story, feeling differently presented. One episode (much like the Breaking Bad episode when the whole show was taken up with the two main characters trying to catch a fly) was set entirely in the farmhouse and focused on the activity there alone - with very interesting and excellent photography backed up by a moody and engaging soundtrack. The music and photography throughout were high points, which to a large degree made up for some of the not so good acting.
Having said that, the main players do a fine job. Rhodri Meilir (Dr Who, My Family, Hinterland) plays Dylan and is creepy enough to make the viewer shudder, but clinical, removed and cold enough to make them realise that he’s functioning on some other planet. The victim who the show focuses on mostly is Megan, delivered by Gwyneth Keyworth (Black Mirror, Hinterland, Game of Thrones) and very well too. She is convincing and demonstrates the range of emotions to get the anxiety, frustration, fear and horror of her situation across to the audience. Sian Reese-Williams (Hinterland, Emmerdale) plays DI Cadi John and is, also, very accomplished in her role, delivering convincingly.
Sometimes the proceedings are slow and focus with unnecessarily extension on the home life of the copper (as it did, for instance, in Happy Valley) and you get to the point on a few occasions where you really don’t care about her home life and troubles. But that seems to be a common theme in this genre - to make sure the copper is a broken soul too. At least on this occasion, her father used to be a copper and was to some degree tied up in the historic aspects of the story. But the pace was generally alright, with this caveat.
This is a very well made TV show and I would completely recommend it. It’s no blockbuster, but it’s a very accomplished piece of drama which I looked forward to sitting down to each week, wondering where on earth it was going next. The time flies whilst watching mostly, and being artistically rich keeps interest from all sorts of angles. See if you can track it down.
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