03 February 2015

TV: Broadchurch 2.5 (Newsom)

review by Tom Newsom (Twitter | Flickr | Blog)

It’s back to Broadchurch in one of the most stylish episodes yet. There’s some very flashy shots this week: reflections in close-ups, high shots of driving, low shots on the beach, pulling focus on someone half a mile away. The most wonderful sunsets, rain and tears and puddles, glowing lights of a local fairground. It’s all gorgeous and feels ever so planned, almost too precise for a show that reportedly goes for the ‘first take’ - after all, that’s how they can film lots of lovely sunsets without the light changing. But then this show has always been this way, a ‘heightened’ atmosphere through a mixture of styles.

For the residents, it’s getting personal. More and more, the trial is pulling their lives inside out again. There are a few heartbreaking stories here as you’d expect, with regulars Jodie Whitaker, Andrew Buchan, Arthur Darvill, Charlotte Rampling (still a star) and Marianne Jean-Baptiste. And I want to raise a problem: even though they are heartbreaking scenes, often these scenes seem lost in the mix with the rest of the plot. Unlike the first series, where we often picked on a different person each week and have the characters react to it, there isn’t a strong focus to any of these episodes. They’re trying to strip the plots across the series, particularly the trial (which doesn’t offer us anything especially momentous this week), but it makes the series drag on if it’s the same stories every time. What it needs is a bit of a shakeup of the formula, and I don’t think we’ve had it yet.

A similar drag is happening in the Sandbrook case. It feels to me like so-called-clue piled upon clue, the standout suspect out of the four changing every advert break. I can’t make much sense of it - but then I said that when watching the last series! But the case is deepening. The ending is very much like The Killing in terms of a last-minute-investigation-twist and that gloomy un-Broadchurch like location. That scene was stripped down (with most of the dialogue sounding like it was added when editing) but perhaps it’s the odd twist we’ve all been searching for.

This episode is perhaps stolen by Ellie Miller yet again. Just like her, we’re ready to go through the clues and just try and solve this damned past case that’s haunting the series. But have the characters - and the show - pushed the format too far?

many thanks to
Tom Newsom (Twitter | Flickr | Blog)

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