The Shadow Line (2011)

TV Mini-Series
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A noir thriller with diverse individuals whose worlds become interwoven after the murder of drug baron Harvey Wratten. From the cop with a bullet in his brain... See full synopsis »

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Series cast summary:
 Jonah Gabriel (7 episodes, 2011)
 Joseph Bede (7 episodes, 2011)
 Lia Honey (7 episodes, 2011)
 Patterson (7 episodes, 2011)
Malcolm Storry ...
 Maurice Crace (7 episodes, 2011)
Clare Calbraith ...
 Laura Gabriel (7 episodes, 2011)
 Gatehouse (6 episodes, 2011)
 Jay Wratten (6 episodes, 2011)
 Julie Bede (6 episodes, 2011)
 Sergeant Foley (5 episodes, 2011)
 Ross McGovern (5 episodes, 2011)
 Ratallack (4 episodes, 2011)
 Petra Mayler (4 episodes, 2011)
 Richards (4 episodes, 2011)
 Bob Harris (4 episodes, 2011)
 Robert Beatty (4 episodes, 2011)
 Bulkat Babur (4 episodes, 2011)
 Commander Khokar (4 episodes, 2011)
 Alison (4 episodes, 2011)
Nadine Marshall ...
 Forensic Officer (3 episodes, 2011)
Bryony Afferson ...
 Sara (3 episodes, 2011)
 Andy Dixon (3 episodes, 2011)
Sasha Behar ...
 Laing (3 episodes, 2011)
 Commander Penney (3 episodes, 2011)
 Marshall (3 episodes, 2011)
 Kirsten, Julie's Nurse / ... (3 episodes, 2011)


A noir thriller with diverse individuals whose worlds become interwoven after the murder of drug baron Harvey Wratten. From the cop with a bullet in his brain... See full synopsis »

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Release Date:

2011 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Dieftharmenos kosmos  »

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Featured in Breakfast: Episode dated 5 May 2011 (2011) See more »


(main theme)
Written and performed by Emily Barker
Produced by Martin Phipps
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User Reviews

Atmospheric, brooding, spectacularly brilliant TV crime series
11 September 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This extraordinary TV series has all the intensity of David Lynch's MULLHOLLAND DRIVE (2001, see my review), and director/writer/producer Hugo Blick with this effort has really entered the top ranks of mood-makers. From the very first shot, looking down on a deserted car at night from a high crane, as two policemen gingerly approach it to look for a corpse, we know we are in deep and moody noir territory. The lighting, shots, composition, editing, pace, are all done in an elegiac mode. The acting is intense, the camera dwelling on the faces, many of them ravaged, is intense, the emotions are intense, we are in deep purple mood as a variety of horrible drug dealers struggle against The Unknown, and get killed one after another. The entire series has a kind of metaphysical feel, as if conceived by Jean-Paul Sartre as a struggle against Le Néant ('Nothingness'). Our hero, the lead policeman, suffers from amnesia and cannot remember key things which relate to the case he is supposed to be investigating. He is not sure whether he was once a corrupt cop or not, and no one will tell him. But he does find a briefcase stuffed with £250,000 in cash concealed in his bedroom. He just can't remember how he got it, and dreads finding out. He is repeatedly told that the only reason he is still alive is that he cannot remember certain things. He has a nagging ex-mistress who constantly pressures him by shouting: 'When are you going to tell her?', referring to their child which his wife does not know exists, even though the relationship itself with the mistress is over and has dissolved in recriminations and resentments. This series features an excellent but very scary performance by Rafe Small, son of the distinguished actor Timothy Small, as a young psychopathic criminal. Small has mastered the 'Tony Blair swivelling, insane eyes' motif perfectly, and may have modelled himself on that famed Conqueror of the WMDs which never existed, except for one thing, that he speaks very quietly and low key. All the cast in this series are excellent. The lead is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, a name which requires a certain amount of concentration not only to pronounce but to remember. It does not trip as lightly off the tongue as Clark Gable, for instance. However, despite the difficulty of coping with his name, we can only respect his intense, concerned, and worried performance as the good-natured cop struggling to overcome amnesia while solving murders which just keep on happening and which all appear to be linked somehow, but no one knows how or why. The parallel story of his complicated personal life adds to the strain the poor man is under. The spookiest and most menacing, and perhaps the most brilliant, of all the performances in this remarkable series is by Stephen Rea. He is just over the horizon of visibility, where police, security, corruption, drugs, criminals, and mania all lurk. He embodies all the unknown horrors of what threatens us, and he does it with such calm and unperturbed perfection. When he kills, it is with the same unconcern with which one switches off a car ignition after parking. We discover that he is motivated by a control mania so extreme that it reminds us of all our least favourite politicians. What is it about the times in which we live which breeds so many maniacs who wish for total control of everyone and everything? And how is it that they get elected and appointed? Stephen Rea's eerie performance stands for all that, for all the unspoken, slow, relentless creep of control over everything being exerted by insane persons at the top. And he cannot be stopped, any more than the Terminator can, or than the World State, the European Union, the Patriot Act (which no one in Congress read before passing it), the public bailout of Goldman Sachs by the former head of Goldman Sachs (Hank Paulson, proud possessor of another set of 'Blair-style' swivelling, insane eyes), the controls which prevent us from taking hand cream onto planes, the closing of children's playgrounds because they might fall and bruise their knees, the monitoring of everything and everyone, the many Mount Everests of unread email intercepts and unheard phone taps, which fill all the world's demented security agencies, where total control and total knowledge amount to … what? A vacuum of futility. Somehow Blick manages to convey all of these background fears of our time, as well as the moral emptiness of those causing them, by profound and sustained innuendo throughout this series. There is always 'them'. Who are 'they'? No one knows. Even 'they' do not know. But whoever 'they' are, there is always evil, there is always corruption, there are always drugs, there are always suitcases stuffed with cash, there are corpses discovered in strange positions, there is betrayal, as well as betrayal of the betrayers, and finally there is the Nothingness. It is the Nothingness which lies behind all of this. That is who is to blame. And that is the true secret of what is on the other side of 'the shadow line'.

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