There’s something about a stunning, open plan house with granite kitchen surfaces and minimalist architecture which attracts a dark and twisting storyline – at least, ITV certainly seem to think so. One thing’s for sure – it’s clear that you’re much less likely to get murdered, abused or cheated on in a humble cottage, so bear that in mind when you’re next on Rightmove.
This month, ITV have chosen domestic abuse as their deadly sin, and it makes for a nail-bitingly uncomfortable watch which comes with a trigger warning. The content is heavy; protagonist Angela Black (Joanne Froggatt) is the victim of abusive husband Olivier (Michiel Huisman) who has some pretty dreadful plans up his sleeve for his wife, as is revealed by the mysterious private investigator Ed (Samuel Adewunmi).
It is the introduction of Adewunmi’s character which adds an intriguing twist to this otherwise heartbreaking and harrowing tale which, if it wasn’t for the aforementioned architecture of the Black’s home, would almost be too unbearable to watch whilst you unwind with a glass of red. It’s Suzi Feay, in The Financial Times who warns that “a lot rides on the performance of Samuel Adewunmi as the mysteriously omniscient Ed. Fortunately, he’s terrific with an imposing physicality and burning intensity that’s equal parts reassuring and intimidating.” This duality of character is the kind that has you desperately waiting for the ad break, holding your bladder just to see what happens next.
For The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan, however, it’s Froggatt who “stops the story drifting into absurdity or becoming a trivialising, exploitative endeavour”, giving us “a woman utterly drained yet jumping with nerves, hypervigilant yet weighed down by the burden of misery”. However, The Telegraph’s Anita Singh is not best pleased, calling Angela Black “a passable way to spend a Sunday evening”, warning that “it takes a subject as grim as domestic violence and gives it the schlock-horror treatment” – hardly the sensitive handling that it deserves.
Still, we think it’s a Must watch – if you can handle the heaviness.
First shown October 2021.