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|Index||93 reviews in total|
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 then, if it would give me the same feeling of
despondency I seem to get, whenever watching 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.
I enjoy British crime dramas. I find the pacing and depth of characterization is more engaging than the better American shows and there is often more emphasis on "mystery". Meanwhile I find the Americans are more innovative and the plots seldom have the holes that sometimes mar British crime stories. Broadchurch is a marvel. I have never seen a TV drama that explores the emotions of so many characters so convincingly. Crimes are traumatizing. Broadchurch gets this perfectly. Nor have I have ever seen a crime drama that packs a visual punch in so many scenes. The Dorset coast is a character in Broadchurch. It plays its role as effectively as any of the brilliant actors in this piece. And that brings up the acting. You won't find a weak performance and some are unforgettable. There were times when I was reminded of how exciting it was watch Sopranos for the first time. Broadchurch may even have the same kind of influence on future television filmmakers. It transcends comparisons between the US and the UK. It's a new standard and an instant classic.
I have been loving the emotional depth of this show! So often families
of murder victims exist merely to give clues for the eventual solution
but in Broadchurch we are exposed to the grief of a bereft and torn
I have never paid much attention to Olivia Coleman before but what an amazing actress! She will be added to my list of actors to follow from now on! She plays Ellie Miller a local detective who is not only charged with investigating the murder but who also knows personally the various suspects and players in the drama. An interesting mix and a fruitful tension!
I am very glad for her character because Miller's superior, DI ALec Hardy (David Tennant), is very much the clichéd grumpy dysfunctional detective we have all seen in a hundred other cop dramas. Having said that he plays his role well. If we must have this trope then Tennant brings some new life to it which is a tribute to his screen presence.
The setting is small town Dorset(Southern England). The village setting with its entangled relationships is fertile soil for the twists and tangles of the story.
After 6 episodes I am very much involved with the characters from the town of Broadchurch and am hoping the producers of this show will let it come to the end of its story arc in the scheduled 8 episodes.
As if more proof were needed --- it is not -- here we see what happens
when you allow a very talented production team to dig deep and come up
with, essentially, a 7 hour, sequential, melodrama, or crime novel.
(Eight hours less commercials). Even Hollywood on its best day can only
do 2 and a half hours and is therefore handicapped (and when Hollywood
tries to go the distance, the suits involved usually end up eating
their own young -- check out ONCE UPON A TIME IN America, an extended
melodrama that the late Roger Ebert once referred as the most
disastrous editing job he had encountered in his career). Absolutely
superb and near-flawless entertainment. Only possible criticism is that
the last 9 minutes of the concluding episode are, well, gratuitous and
out-of-place, oddly heavy-handed. The acting is stunning, not merely
Tennant, who is always good, but the supporting cast is pitch perfect.
The story is multi-faceted, a so-called simple murder in a simple town
which probes the very souls of the characters involved. "How could you
not know?" is a line of dialogue that pops up more than once, and is
really the signature for the whole piece. If you can, watch it
beginning to end and don't be surprised if you simply cannot hit the
PAUSE button. It's that good.
Addendum June 16: Just starting the second season. In my other reviews, I flagged that most really great shows have one single character who is effectively the "glue" in the narrative, the character that keeps the viewer hooked even when there is no strong forward movement in the episode. Here the glue is the superb actress Olivia Colman, who (noticed this several times) can deliver a line of dialog with only one or two words ("Wanker!" "Still Married!") and still make the viewer smile or wince ... or even cry. Wow.
I can't say too much how much I enjoyed this series. Unlike most murder
dramas, this story isn't about autopsies and gunfights. It's about
human nature. It's about the tragedy of the murder of a child. It's
about the court of public opinion, the sinister nature of irresponsible
journalism, the failures, frailties and flaws of our fellow human
beings. This is 'Shakespeare writes a detective story'.
Chris Chibnall has now gone to the top of my list as a writer. It was beautifully done. In no way has he broken the cardinal rule of show, don't tell. Nor has he made the horrible mistake of creating any perfect character. All of them, from youngest to oldest, are wonderfully imperfect human beings, and with no character is this more obvious than our protagonist, DI Alec Hardy, masterfully played by David Tennant as the world-weary detective with secrets of his own and a shadowy past. He is so wonderfully written by Chibnall and executed by Tennant that we find ourselves won over by a character that on the surface is quite unlikable. Tennant's performance has, IMO, overshadowed his role in Doctor Who with this work. He has proved before that he's far more than the Tenth Doctor. With his Hardy, he made me forget about all other roles.
Olivia Colman, too, is wonderful. Her character enjoys a growth that's wonderful to behold. Colman is as good as any actress out there. I've seen her before, but with her Ellie Miller, she has captured me completely.
In fact not a single actor or actress was badly chosen. From eldest to youngest and male and female, all of them turned in sterling performances. Even the dog! I was especially pleased with Arthur Darvill. Young Adam Wilson, who played Tom Miller, was quite impressive as well.
This series is what TV should look like. This is what The Killing should have looked like. This is TV at it's finest. The story arc was magnificent, centered, not on procedurals and junk science-based CSI (actual CSI is nothing like what's shown on TV) but on the tragedy of it, and how that tragedy bled into the lives of the people of Broadchurch, itself, even the ones investigating it. The dialog was wonderful, especially the banter between Hardy and Miller, whose polar-opposite natures should have been cliché, yet were pulled off masterfully by Colman and Tennant. Hardy's subplot was simply divine. We find out why he is so world-weary, yet, in the end are still left with the mystery of him, and know he is Broadchurch's greatest mystery still. Little touches, like the 'love thy neighbor' signs add further richness and poignancy and lend the tale yet more humanity. Rich in character development, beautifully photographed, the series ended in a perfect denouement. And the best part is we are left wanting more, which is the mark of a truly great story.
The only reason why I'm not giving it a 10/10 is because I have to
leave a little room for humbleness. However, without a doubt, one of
the best TV dramas that I have ever seen. It blends human frailty,
melodramatic egos among professionals, frigid and temperamental
relationships among small town residents, child anxieties, and
mistrust, in a very artful way. It also shows the very real side of how
people are often confused and blameworthy against everyone especially
with the most flimsy of evidence.
I probably could come up with more adjectives, and penetrating analysis, but perhaps it is better for those who haven't seen, to see. It left me in tears at the end. I think about my own children, my own family, and it left me with a strange feeling of uncertainty and doubt. It will take me a long time to shake that.
Very good story-telling!
I have seen a lot of mini series, I love British TV - but I will have to say this is probably the best I have seen. Riveting. unpredictable and intense without over dramatization. At first it took me to a little slow but as i got to know the characters and the story that was progressing, I was hooked. The ending - I didn't see coming. But is was done so well. Relatable to so many people without being over the top. I found every character had such an important role that the ending almost came as a surprise. If you want a show that is realistic without being over the top - but at the same time relateable - this is it!!! I only hope season two is as good. The characters were amazing. The story line was believable. i could not stop watching it. If the other seasons are written with thew same demeanor and the same quality _ i will be sure to watch them all.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
DS Ellie Miller is expecting to be promoted but when eleven year old
Danny Latimer is found murdered on the beach it is thought that
somebody with more experience is needed. That person is DI Alec Hardy;
he has experience with such a crime but as the prosecution failed in
that case he may be a liability. Broadchurch isn't the sort of town
where such things happen and everybody is shaken; it is also the sort
of town where everybody seems to know everybody else but as the case
progresses it emerges that many people have secrets and as they are
exposed lives will be changed forever.
Plenty of suspects emerge; the Danny's father lies about where he was that night, the leader of the Sea Cadets has a conviction for underage sex, a woman living near the beach has Danny's skateboard and DS Miller's own son quickly deleted his correspondence with Danny as soon as he learnt his friend was dead to name but a few. By the time the story approached its conclusion many of these things had been explained but not all; as I settled down to watch the final episode there were still plenty of people I thought might have done it.
The large cast do a fine job; particularly David Tennant and Olivia Coleman who played Hardy and Miller and Jodie Whittaker who played Danny's mother. The story moved along nicely and despite the numerous suspects it didn't feel too convoluted. The only real fault I noticed was that we were expected to believe that Broadchurch was small enough for everybody to know everybody else involved yet it was big enough to have its own newspaper and a police station with its own CID thankfully by the end of the first episode I was engrossed enough to ignore this as dramatic licence.
All of the above was written prior to watching the finale to avoid unwitting spoilers; having now seen it I can say I think the series ended well. The creators eschewed the cliché of revealing the killer in the final minutes; instead we learnt who did it just before the first advert break. The rest of the episode was given over to explaining the motivation for the crime and more importantly showing how this resolution would affect the lives of those involved; both Danny's family and the relatives of the killer. The latter was particularly well handled as such series rarely dwell on the fact that learning that a loved one has committed a heinous crime will have a dramatic affect. As the credits finished we were promised another series; I hope they can replicate the quality of this story.
Broadchurch is a fantastic and refreshing British crime-drama. The 8 part series can be complemented on its beautiful cinematography, compelling acting (particularly the performance of Olivia Colman) and a story that grips you. While the story can be somewhat depressing the depth of the characters and the well constructed plot makes it hard not to watch the series in one sitting. Furthermore, unlike other television shows centered on crime, Broadchurch leaves some subtle clues through out the later episodes, which allows viewers to indulge in guessing the killer. The only criticism is that some of the younger actors/actresses give flawed performances, but this is to be expected. I would highly recommend watching this show.
The most extraordinary story ever, written & produced by Chris
Chipnall, one of the top British writers today. A Brilliant cast,
featuring the cream of British actors. The best drama of the year,
keeps you on the edge of your seat for the entire film. The locations
for this film are beautiful.
The body of a 11year old boy is found on the beach in Dorset, England. The murder and following investigation create a chain reaction that will tear this small seaside town apart. A town wrapped in secrets, like most small towns anywhere in the world, and they become known as the investigation proceeds. The Murderer remains veiled until the final episode and a surprise and more importantly the reason. The two investigators, DI Hardy a harden, efficient, and blunt outsider with the reputation for failure - played brilliantly by David Tennant - and DS Miller a sensitive and friendly local - played by the extraordinary Olivia Coleman. The interactions between these two is amazing - some of the best dialog and zingers - like when Miller tells Hardy "leave me alone or I will p--- in a cup and throw it on you." - Or when Hardy tells Miller "I pray nightly that you will leave me alone." The remaining Cast is spectacular - you can actually feel the grief and suspicion coming from their characters. The film is well worth watching if you love great drama and great acting.
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