7 October 2012 | steven-222
Gold-standard TV drama
This story of a working-class young man in the late 1940s trying to make a life for himself is extremely involving, not least because it's so erotic (mostly because the sex seems so real, which is to say all-consuming and ambivalent at the same time, as is so often the case). If you've ever had any sort of illicit affair, you know the knots you inevitably get tied in, no matter how honestly you try to deal with the situation; this movie touches very keenly on that heartbreak, with great honestly.
Brave work by Maxine Peake, who strips naked in every possible sense as the woman who falls for young Joe in spite of herself. And a terrific performance by Matthew McNulty, who does justice to the many layers of a very subtly drawn character; you can see that canny brain constantly working behind his eyes, assessing every situation for danger or gain. For me, the only weakness here was the casting of Jenna-Louise Coleman as Joe's upper-class girlfriend, Susan; I couldn't quite share his intense attraction to her, so had to take it on faith.
This was compulsive watching, and though the ending will put you through a wringer, very worthwhile. Gold-standard TV drama.