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Friday, 14 September 2012

Television Review: A Mother's Son

Starring Hermione Norris, Martin Clunes and Paul McGann, A Mother's Son tells the story of Rosie (Norris), a woman who has to confront the horrible truth that her son may have murdered someone. She lives with her new husband Ben (Clunes) along with her two teenagers and his two teenagers but there are already tensions in the family about how best to deal with their essentially separate parenting lives. On the outskirts of the family is Rosie's ex-husband David (McGann), father to her two children. Rosie turns to him when their son's behaviour becomes worrying.

If this sounds complex, it's because it is. In that, I suppose, it reflects modern family life with its divisions and difficulties. The real difficulty comes in Rosie's reluctance to follow her instincts about Jamie (Alexander Arnold) and her attempts to cover up any involvement he may have had in the death of a schoolgirl after finding his trainers covered in blood. It certainly strikes a chord on a parental level but, I must admit, I wanted to throttle Rosie for wringing her hands at confirming the substance was blood on the trainers for starters. From the clock on the wall behind her it seemed she'd been sat there for six hours staring at them and sighing. I understand her reticence but it was a lengthy scene which could've been trimmed.

There were a couple of aspects to the piece as a whole which didn't quite work for me. Firstly, the demonstration of the dead girl's mother's grief wasn't necessary for the plot to work. Although the performance of Annabelle Apsion as the grieving Kay was flawless, the scenes felt out of place in a story which was essentially about the family of the potential murderer. This can also be said of the police scenes. I understand that the intention was to keep the audience in the loop and ramp up the tension a bit but it only served to distract from the main thrust of the piece. All the information that was conveyed via the police scenes could've been dribbled through to the family in a less heavy-handed fashion. This drama wasn't supposed to be about the dead girl or the police really, and I think the producers lost sight of that at times.

On a more positive note, the three leads were well cast, as were the four teenagers. The family set-up and its problems are probably more important than the did-he-didn't-he murder aspect and I certainly enjoyed them more. The dialogue in places flagged a little, becoming a little over-indulgent towards the end but I empathised with many of the characters. Not a fantastic drama but an intricate one that made a valid point underneath the murder.

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