I've not always been a fan of Lynda La Plante's often clichéd TV murder mystery thrillers as they're usually more hackneyed than a black cab! Sure enough this most recent outing displays more of the same, but this time I was able to overlook a lot of them as surprisingly she pulled off a rattling good story to go along with it.
Latter day thrillers often need have to have some differentiating tag to draw in fresh interest to a sometimes jaded and overcrowded genre - think of the deadly sins of "Seven". Here La Plante takes the infamous old unsolved post-war Hollywood murder called "The Blue Dahlia" and runs with it, with a copycat murderer recreating the grisly murders and pretty much the whole surrounding M.O.
Okay, you want clichés, well, how about heroine Kelly Reilly letting herself get bedded by a romantic journalist, who naturally turns out to be a self-serving double-crosser, then improbably and almost immediately redeeming herself with her disenchanted team, by adroitly taking over a call from an edgy witness and encouraging her to spill the name of the prime suspect. And what was that kissing scene with her boss at the end all about? Said boss, Ciaran Hinds is still, of course, grounded firmly in the macho 70's barking orders like John Thaw in "The Sweeney" and more recently DCI Gene Hunt from "Life on Mars" and therefore still a complete anachronism, but I will concede he didn't bother me so much as the previous time I saw him in this part last year. Simon Williams gets a meaty part as the patriarchal psychopath and both girls playing the murder victims acquit themselves well.
For once there were no hackneyed split-screen scenes while the montage scene of the "Red Dahlia" girl's face morphing to her post-murder state was very effective and shocking.
Spread over three consecutive nights, this was worth the three hours of the time I gave it although still very much made for TV in conception and execution.
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