The 'I Am' short series kicks off with this two-handed erosion of a relationship between Vicky McClure's 'Nicola' yearning for normality, with all the trust and freedom that demands, and Perry Fitzpatrick's insecure Adam who needs to be in control of her because he's weak and afraid. Adam never lashes out, at least least not physically, but there's always a sense that his weakness might lead to rage and and an act of unthinking stupidity; though there's also the feeling that Nicola might be more than a match.
Lots of mood, close ups with shallow depth of feel so that we are always focussed on expression and micro-expressions. Nothing escapes the lense, and the actors have to inhabit their characters fully to be able to carry the weight of such scrutiny. McClure is exceptionally gifted in front of the camera, there's something raw and exposed about her work even in generic fare like 'Line of Duty', and here she shines. Fitzpatrick has to walk a fine balance between being emotionally immature, a bully, a coward, and needy, all while carrying the threat of being able to overwhelm Nicola emotionally and physically. Both actors do well with a script that has no plot other than to explore the arc of a relationship falling apart.
If there is a weakness it is that the script can feel over-wrought at times, sculpted to so fine a point that it feels crafted to within an inch of it's life rather than a natural flow. Here and there, some lines feel contrived, to the point where I wondered who the heck would use such words in that way in that situation - they just didn't ring true to the characters.
Overall though, McClure and Fitzpatrick are watchable as ordinary people falling apart but there is just not enough edge to make this something that sticks.
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