Set in post-war Britain, Lewis Aldridge is grief-stricken as he finds it hard to deal with the death of his beloved mother. He is put in the care of his emotionally distant father Gilbert, whom he barely knows and who quickly remarries forcing Lewis to bury his feelings. Lewis becomes dependent on his friendship with the neighboring Carmichael girls, Tamsin and Kit who are controlled by their domineering father Dicky.
Hattie Morahan and Greg Wise have both appeared in a Jane Austen adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. Hattie Morahan played Eleanor in the 2008 BBC miniseries, whilst Greg Wise played Willoughby in the 1995 film. See more »
With some great talent and such an interesting story this had a lot of potential to be good, even great. And all the high anticipation was not quashed, with a very good first episode, with a couple of reservations, and an outstanding second one. Don't let the constant gloom put you off, this was a powerful and poignant story done rivetingly by the BBC.
The Outcast looks great for starters, with the post-war period detail done to very elegant and atmospheric effect and the whole drama being beautifully photographed throughout. Loved also the haunting and carefully chosen music scoring (no shrill violins for example) that gave off a real sense of melancholy while allowing the drama to resonate and not overbear it, as well as how appropriately restrained the direction was. The script is intelligently structured, thoughtful and affecting, it doesn't rely too much on over-exposition, the mood is not too one-dimensional (thanks to a reasonably but subtly upbeat first twenty minutes or so) and there is very little misplaced to interrupt the flow (apart from the slightly misplaced sex scene in the bar). The story, while deliberately but seldom dully paced, is incredibly powerful in its best parts and has a great deal of poignancy and nuance, particularly memorable was the truly harrowing drowning scene and the contrast between the torment and secret pain and the civilised and restrained society was depicted powerfully and without any compromises too.
As for the cast, the performances are uniformly impressive, with seemingly clichéd characters to begin with but ones that show more dimension and meat in the second half. There were two performances that left me with reservations at first but once the material got meatier and the characters more interesting in the second half their performances got far better. George McKay seemed rather vacant and gormless at first (it was also at first a little disconcerting having the older Lewis bearing no resemblance to the younger one), but his emotional range gets wider, the more emotionally damaged Lewis becomes, and more subtle in the second half, making it easier to empathise with Lewis and the pain he's going through regardless of his actions. Jessica Brown-Findlay at first seemed a little lost, but the more sympathetic, hapless and tormented Alice became the more comfortable Brown-Findlay seemed.
Finn Elliot is wonderful as the younger Lewis, his grief and loss heart-wrenchingly portrayed, while Hattie Morahan is charming and a breath of fresh air in contrast to the drama's overall atmosphere. Greg Wise plays uptight and stern brilliantly, and there's even one part that shows that he is not entirely devoid of feelings, and Nathaniel Parker excels in a very atypical role as the domineering and brutish Dickie Carmichael. Jessica Barden also does a fine job showcasing Kit's physical and emotional damage, she is also very convincing playing a character quite a bit younger than she is.
To conclude, excellent and powerful BBC drama, that started promisingly with reservations and fared even better in the second episode. 8.5/10 Bethany Cox
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