2 May 2013 | reviewcentralny
Mesmerizing. A show somewhere between your most beautiful imagination and your darkest fears.
An enthusiastic reviewer started writing about this show when it started filming, speaking with great anticipation about the creator of the show's previous work and then the premise of his new show - a crime story, inherently tragic, focusing on grief, dark puzzles and a small community in which everyone knows everyone. I immediately thought of 'The Killing' and whether I would feel the same sense of of despondency when I watch shows like that.
Turns out I was both right and completely wrong. And I'll get to the emphatic 'yes!' for this show in a moment. The storyline, like in most crime shows these days, is hardly original. And you could say that like many British TV shows with veteran actors, intriguing plots with a dark narrative devoid of hope or a happy ending (contrary to most American TV shows with a similar premise), this show too, relies on intriguing characters to keep your interest in the puzzle and the secrets each character holds. But Broadchurch does all that without ever indulging in tragedy or hopelessness. No easy feat.
The acting and casting are flawless. The story feels real and unfolds with a steady, organic pace. David Tennant's nuanced take on the character, which could have easily been another self-important anti-hero with a troubled past, instead offsets Olivia Colman's character wonderfully. Her genuine, sincere approach to life, creating inevitable friction is a surprisingly fresh take on the traditional mismatched police partner or 'buddy cop' dynamics.
And then comes the beauty. Each shot framed like a painting featuring the stunning cliffs and beaches around the Dorset coast in all its rugged glory. Even interviews with suspects are photographed with elegance and an unexpected ethereal quality, using blurred light and colors. The stunning landscape setting is used not just as a backdrop, but a powerful narrative, contrasting its vastness with the small stories of each one of the locals. The calm, reflective moments in each episode feature scenes without dialog, allowing you to absorb it all.
This is where the music comes in. Too often an afterthought, a necessary element to invoke emotion or underline the words, here the music becomes one of the main characters of the show. An understated yet stunning soundtrack by Ólafur Arnalds, featured prominently throughout the series. And what a revelation it is. Allowing you to watch Broadchurch both as a sophisticated detective story and as an evocative, elegant music video. And while concert halls featured the most talented composers in the past, sadly or thankfully, TV shows (possibly more than feature length films even), seem to be the perfect outlet for the most creative contemporary artists. Utopia, Breaking Bad and Battlestar Galactica come to mind.
You could say then, that it is Ólafur Arnalds' score who helps Broadchurch transcend the sadness and grief of the story told, but it wouldn't be fair to understate the the stunning cinematography and art direction, subtle and powerful storytelling and production by Chris Chibnall. And with a cast that is able to portray the characters with depth and authenticity, it helps Broadchurch stand out from similar shows, deserving a review beyond simple comparison.