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TV Review: The Cry

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Following the likes of Bodyguard and Killing Eve, this female-driven BBC drama is no exception to the sequence of sensational series lighting up the small screen. 

Starring Jenna Coleman of Doctor Who fame, The Cry has to be one of the best mini-series I have ever had the joy to watch. Adapted from Helen FitzGerald’s novel of the same name, it explores the story of a grieving couple, Joanna and Alistair, who lose their first child together whilst on a trip to Australia.

Jenna Coleman and Ewen Leslie in The Cry

Image courtesy of the BBC 
They are in the country to fight for the custody of Alistair’s child Chloe, whom he had with his previous wife, Alexandra (Asher Keddie). We are then taken on a messy journey of discovering the truth, where the viewer constantly questions what’s real and what’s not, and who we can trust in this tragedy.

With the conclusion airing on Sunday night, it’s a surprise that its popularity hasn’t soared as high as other primetime dramas. The BBC drama spot was left open after the ending of Bodyguard and with the Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes 8-parter being the BBC’s most watched drama since 2008, it’s no exaggeration to say that The Cry had big shoes to fill.

However, it’s clear that the shoes were not only filled, but were proven to be too small for this fantastic series. Upon reflection of Perske’s adaption, it’s hard to find a flaw. It authentically represents the glamour-less realities of motherhood, grief, marriage while maintaining its entertainment value.

It lacked comic relief (it would be somewhat inappropriate to include it in such a series), yet its glumness worked. The resolution was satisfying, yet surprising, balancing perfectly between being a realistic ending and not being entirely obvious.

Flipping between different time periods without warning, such as a court case, when the couple met and after the disappearance, may have added confusion for some. But it was the perfect technique to drip-feed the audience information without drowning us in it.

Each time period becomes crystal clear by the end, so I implore you to stick with it through the initial murkiness to get the satisfaction at the end. While we don’t necessarily get every question answered explicitly, the loose ends are easy to fill in. When the series is laced in powerful subtleties, spelling out everything would somewhat diminish the magic.

For years, I associated Jenna Coleman solely with her Doctor Who character and having not seen Victoria, I was unaware of her incredible acting ability. She carries the series with her stunning portrayal of Joanna, expertly depicting every emotion under the sun with a subtle facial expression or a change in tone.

Alongside her co-stars, she navigates a dark storyline in a sensitive yet powerful way. While it’s certainly easy to empathise with Coleman’s character, it’s not through her lack of flaws but through her humanity. With the series revolving around her reality, she’s a captivating protagonist who you’ll find yourself simultaneously weeping and rooting for.

Jenna Coleman in The Cry

Image courtesy of the BBC 

However, Ewen Leslie’s performance as Alistair must not go amiss, with his character becoming more and more despicable as the series progresses. His degradations of Joanna at first feel like a mere annoyance, and I didn’t know whether I was supposed to hate him or not. With the majority of the series focussing on Joanna and Alistair’s turbulent dynamic, Leslie is almost as masterful as Coleman.

The 4-parter continues the BBC’s theme of strong women on our small screen in the wake of Killing Eve, Wanderlust and Bodyguard to name a few. I can only hope this theme continues as it has offered knockout storylines and performances, turning female character tropes on their heads.

The Cry is an absolute knockout and with only four episodes, it hardly even counts as procrastination. If there’s a list of underrated BBC dramas, it definitely belongs at the top.




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