A Tense But Technically Flawed Series
One of the disadvantages with doing this job and watching so much TV from so many different regions, is how despairingly behind British drama is compared to its foreign counterparts. It’s frustrating too because given how many crime dramas ITV have produced over the past 12 months, only one has really stood out as being competently created; Manhunt back in January this year.
I’m always willing to give shows the benefit of the doubt and after a particularly rocky start, A Confession returns this week for a much improved episode, one that manages to inject a good level of tension and drama but is again held back by some very amateurish cinematography. Given how many crime dramas there are, this is particularly problematic for a channel attempting to establish itself as a prominent TV player (especially given the paid collaborative streaming service on the way with the BBC).
Episode 2 of A Confession ramps up its investigative duties this week, as DS Steve takes the reigns of the investigation, convinced Sian is still alive. After a brief recap, and some interesting past segments that look closer into Sian’s past, we catch up with DS Steve looking into Ray as a possible suspect and doing the rounds. It’s here he’s told that a man named Jeremy has admitted to murder. He tells the police he killed Sian with a cord and enjoyed it, but the times described don’t match up and as such, his confession is thrown out.
While being questioned whether to widen the search perimeters, Steve goes back to check the CCTV and strikes lucky as he happens upon a taxi with a registration plate on, matching that of the original footage. Assuming this is the same car, they get to work bringing him in as a possible suspect. Following him down the street, a dizzying array of shots from inside and outside the car see the officers tail the suspect before the camera is obscured by cars passing by.
As the two officers follow him on his shift, the driver dumps a black bag in the bins during the night before speeding off. Staying behind, they check the bins and find seat covers and perfume stuffed in the bag. Deliberating over whether to arrest him or not, Steve tells them to hold off as he expects him to lead them to Sian. He tells the police to keep following in the hopes of a positive outcome, but unfortunately this has an adverse effect as the police lose the suspect in the middle of the night. As a car races past them down the country lane, the officers continue on, eventually finding something burning in the middle of the road.
After arranging specific press reports, the family continue to wait (and worry) over Sian’s safety as the case reaches its fourth day. With the police determined to try and make the driver crack, they continue their undercover operation while Steve relays on his plans with his superior officers, who warn him that things could go awry if he’s not careful.
As day turns to night, the tension reaches fever pitch as Steve tightens the knot and focuses exclusively on bringing the driver in. After being told he can’t do the interception that night, Steve lets his emotions get the better of him before heading outside to calm himself while sucking on a cigarette, contemplating what to do next as he stares out at the quiet night sky.
The next day the taxi driver, Christopher Halliwell, is arrested by police on suspicion of killing Sian. Ignoring the advice given to him by his superiors, Steve breaks protocol; the beginning of the end for this officer as he desperately tries to find Sian. As he arrives on scene, he speaks to Christopher away from the car and asks outright if he’ll tell him where she is, leaving the episode hanging in the balance.
Unlike last week’s episode, A Confession does well to add a sense of urgency and tension to proceedings. For the most part, the episode does pretty well but how tolerant you are about the camera work will make or break the show for you. It’s not just the camera work either, as the scene composition – with obscured shots featuring half the frame blocked – are incredibly distracting moments that hold this back from being a more polished offering.
Martin Freeman is pretty good in this role though, and the bursts of stressed anger add a nice layer of depth to his character, although the supporting characters don’t quite share that same level of intrigue that he does in this drama. Still, there’s a few more positives to take from this week’s episode though but to be honest, it’s hard for me to really recommend this with such inept levels of technicality. Don’t get me wrong, being a cameraman is not an easy job but when you could place a tripod or dolly down and film with steady cameras, it seems inexcusable to pepper in so many archaic zoom shots and wobbly handheld scenes.
If you can look past this though and take exclusively to the story, A Confession has plenty to offer and the ending leaves the door wide open for the infamous exchange between Halliwell and DS Steve that will go on to shape this investigation. It’s not perfect, but it is a reasonably interesting drama and if you can excuse the technical hiccups, you’re sure to find some enjoyment with this one.
Expect A Full Season Write Up When This Season Concludes!