- TV Mini Series
Falling into despair after his nine-year-old son leaves for Australia with his ex, Joseph walks away from his present life and boards a boat for Ireland to confront painful memories from his... Read allFalling into despair after his nine-year-old son leaves for Australia with his ex, Joseph walks away from his present life and boards a boat for Ireland to confront painful memories from his childhood.Falling into despair after his nine-year-old son leaves for Australia with his ex, Joseph walks away from his present life and boards a boat for Ireland to confront painful memories from his childhood.
Joseph (Stephen Graham) is a recovering alcoholic who goes to say goodbye to his ex-wife and young son before they head off to start a new life in Australia. With no direction left in his life, he decides to travel to Ireland, and track down his long lost sister Anna (Helen Bahan), who he lost contact with after being placed in care as a child. Joseph is welcomed into their lives by her, her husband Michael (Frank Laverty) and their young children, along with Dinah (Niamh Alger), a similarly wayward individual. But Joseph has a more darkly personal reason for returning to the Emerald Isle, aiming to put to sleep the devastating demons that have ravaged his life so far.
While it's easy to assume all of our lives follow a pretty similar trajectory, it's pretty clear when we step outside the confines of our nice, cosy homes that pretty damaged people walk among us. You often see them in town centres or in the city, sitting on benches sipping on cans of lager, or standing by shop doorways, usually men, looking scruffy, dejected and like they have no real direction in life. While it's easy to dismiss them as layabouts and 'wasters', and they look too intimidating to approach, on the other hand it's intriguing to wonder what might have happened in their lives that lead them to this point, what dark, repressed memories they're holding back, what story they've got to tell, all of it probably not very happy. It is from this set up that actor/director team Stephen Graham and Shane Meadows form their latest work, a four part drama that builds up to a devastating revelation.
There is simply no better actor than Graham for this kind of raw, unflinching gritty drama. He has this unmatchable ability to tap into the sort of everyman, average guy with personal issues roles, and here he plays a blinder, really drawing you into this man, and his fears, struggles, loves and demons. We need him always in roles like this, not doing naff voiceovers for weird demon baby creatures in comic book duds. Likewise, Meadows is easily the best guy for bringing this sort of drama to life, taking the most seemingly mundane activities and situations, and bringing them to life in ways you couldn't imagine. At least one other reviewer has claimed he is the modern day Ken Loach, and this is a pretty accurate analogy. The pair bounce off each other amazingly, and it's a very effective working partnership. In between all the seemingly unrelenting bleakness, Meadows is careful to add the odd light, comedic moment, that only adds to the believability of his main protagonist as a real person.
In spite of the intrigue and build-up to the eventual resolution, it does feel pretty clear early on what has happened that this man has to confront from his past, and it's not the biggest surprise at the end when it's all revealed. It's a maybe that some parts may over-procrastinate, and drag on for no real reason, but for drama this authentic, raw and shattering, it's a small price to pay. ****
- Jun 6, 2019