3 March 2019 | freudichhurra
well crafted, weaknesses at the end
So a few thoughts to this show:
camera and director do many many things very right here.
first of all: the show's pace. The tale follows a certain pace that you don't find often especially on TV. It's focus is more of a psychological one instead of hitting you in the face with action yet it always keeps a steady tension that drawns you to the story. It doesn't work with changes like shows that would build up a tension, release full blown action for the sake of it and then slows down to give you a contrast. This show keeps the pace for all but the last episode. Scenes that show a lot of action aren't hectic, scenes that show investigating, or characters thinking don't slow down boringly; yet the whole thing doesn't feel mushy - because of the way the story is told -
The story isn't told linear. You find multiple temporal levels. There's a now, there's a then and there's a before then. And even within the same time period the story doesn't always follow the course of time. Some people may find this annoying, I absolutely dig it. Of course it requires some attention and certainly isn't light fare. In addition, while the show hints you at details it doesn't explain those details right away. Sometimes you have to wait an episode or two to get shown the scene missing in the episode you're watching. Jumps to scenes from the past create a tessellation of the background information to understand what's really going on and why everything in the now is like it is. But it's only offered in pieces and creates an analogy to Beckinsale's character - as she collects bit per bit, so does the viewer.
Due to this style your perception of the characters change. People who seem like good people at the time may not seem as good while you suddenly feel a certain empathy with people that you deemed being bad after you're fed some background. These kind of twists are very well made. They don't try to sell you black for white by a completely unbelievable explanation, they just show that life is often not black nor white; we're all broken and in the end we all got our reasons. Of course this being a mini-series you can't expect a character development/assessment on the scope of The Sopranos or The Wire but with what little time they have they do an outstanding job. As for characters' actions it was good to see believable actions for a change. Everyone's acting within their logical and ethical limits and you don't have for example Kate Beckinsale running around like a madman with a shotgun to seek justice.
The camera work is in my opinion very good. The angles, the colours, the composition is just very harmonic and offers good immersion. The cut isn't too fast and doesn't distract from what's happening. This of course puts greater pressure on the actors and the script to transport the story to the viewer. Now Kate Beckinsale with utmost certainty isn't the greatest actress of the 21st century but must say, she did a really solid job and I was pleasantly surprised. The other actors also performed reasonably well. As I see reviews here criticizing the acting in this show I really wonder what they're used to because I generally have seen a lot worse performances.
As for the mediocre/bad: I really disliked the last episode. It breaks with everything I've so far liked. It suddenly changes the pace, it skips the details and backgrounds and presents you with what seems to be an ending to fit the research of the studio as to how to appeal to the biggest audience - unfortunately not necessarily the audience that will watch all other episodes before. They should have probably gone with a different ending, but even going with this one it should have been either turned it into a 12-episode piece giving the events time to unfold instead of rushing through it in the last episode or just turned it into a written epilogue telling you the keypoints of what's happening in 5 sentences to the sound of violins.
Also when you got the whole story in front of you in the end there's slight disappointment since it's rather simple really and there are a lot of potentials or rather would have been that unfortunately can't be tapped due to the ending. There would have been enough material for a second season or a decent spin-off but unfortunately this has been blown.
Overall I can only say, go and watch it. You might want to go through it fast as I think it's not really meant to watch with lengthy interruptions. When you're looking for some light-hearted entertainment to shut your mind off to, this is probably not the show for you. Otherwise you're in for a treat.