Series: A dark eye on London
The new Anna Friel-led thriller Marcellaproves that we're still in thrall to the gloomy Nordic noir that first became popular five years ago with The Killing.
As the work of Hans Rosenfeldt, creator of The Bridge, it even bears the stamp of Swedish TV royalty. The drama's components are strikingly familiar - a cop, forced out of the game for several years after botching a still-unsolved murder investigation, is tempted back when the killer resumes his (or her) wicked ways.
It begins with Marcella Backland (Friel) waking up in the bath, naked, bloody and sobbing in distress - and then cuts to "12 days earlier". At which point we learn that Marcella's husband Jason (Nicholas Pinnock) had just walked out on her and the police needed some assistance after the apparent return of the so-called Grove Park Murderer.
Marcella has a particular aesthetic and peculiar trait: a massive parka (which has already garnered an extraordinary amount of press coverage), and a tendency to black out at inopportune moments - once when removing her cheating husband from the house and again when visiting his mistress, later waking up in that literal blood bath.
If it sometimes stumbles into cliché, there's ample compensation elsewhere. Friel is brittle and unpredictable in the title role, one moment tearfully devastated by her husband's betrayal, the next steely in her pursuit of the serial killer.
The supporting cast, too, is terrific: Sinead Cusack, Patrick Baladi, Harry Lloyd and Maeve Dermody make up the Gibsons, a dysfunctional, feuding family of property developers whose connection to the case was unclear, other than their employment of Jason as a legal adviser. Downton Abbey's Laura Carmichael pops up too, essaying an unexpected cockney accent.
Unsettling camera angles abounded, while the sound design is by turns deafening and eerie. London feels oddly empty, isolating, disorientating. Loose threads dangle everywhere - whither the webcam girl? What of the gang in the corner shop? - and nothing makes much sense. The whole thing feels untethered to reality, which doesn't do much for its credibility but helps it to work surprisingly well as drama.
- © The Telegraph
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