Saturday, 5 May 2012

Hit & Miss with Chloë Sevigny PREVIEW

Mia makes her point to the landlord, John. Pics: BSkyB
Rating: ★★★★

Sky Atlantic: starts Tuesday, 22 May, 10pm 

Story: Mia is a 'cleaner', or contract killer. She is also a transsexual. Her life is blown off course when she receives a letter from her former lover, Wendy, saying that Wendy is dying of cancer and that Mia has an 11-year-old son, Ryan.

Hit & Miss is a blast of something edgy among the crush of mainstream TV crime dramas. If you want a hard-hitting series that's got balls – literally – this is it.

If looks could kill – Mia (Chloë Sevigny)
It doesn't feature twee detectives and their sidekicks traipsing round picturesque villages and towns asking interminable questions in pursuit of whodunit. It doesn't follow tedious forensic boffins. It's about a pre-op transsexual.

Woman in a man's body
Golden Globe winner Chloë Sevigny has taken up the challenge of swapping Hollywood for Manchester to play Mia, the woman in a man's body (and it was a challenge – she apparently hated it up North). But Mia has a further interesting attribute – she's also a contract killer. A good one.

The opening episode of this six-parter wastes no time setting up her life-changing moment. No sooner has she dispatched a man in a night-time car park and revealed – in a jaw-dropping nude scene – that she's no ordinary gal, than she is reading a letter from her former lover, Wendy, revealing that Wendy is dying of cancer. What's more, Mia has an 11-year-old son called Ryan.

Freak with a 'dick in your head'
On arrival at Wendy's remote Yorkshire smallholding, Mia finds her past lover has already died. To stir things up even more, Wendy has made Mia guardian of Riley, aged 16, Levi 15, Leonie, 6, and Ryan. Riley has assumed the role of mum and is hostile to Mia, calling her a freak with a 'dick in your head'. Mia, the killer dad-mother with a son, is in turmoil.

Fit for purpose – as a contract killer
There are further complications. Riley is  having an affair with older married man. Mia has clashed in a local bar with the nasty John (Vincent Regan), who is not too complimentary about Wendy. Ben (Jonas Armstrong) sides with Mia, and seems set to fall for her later on…

Sky Atlantic's first original drama
So far, so chaotic. It's no surprise that such a dysfunctional slice of life among the disadvantaged and those outside of middle classes should have been created by Paul Abbott, who brought us Shameless (it is written by Sean Conway). This offbeat story is Sky Atlantic's first original commission and to keep company with Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones and the network's other landmark shows, Hit & Miss had to stand out. And it does.

Mia packs a punch
Chloë Sevigny has a feminine gawkiness that convinces as a man becoming a woman, and a woman who can stick up for herself. The actress portrays the confidence and aggression to realistically deal with her barroom bully.

The series is not perfect, and Chloë Sevigny's accent veers alarmingly between American and Irish, with the latter seeming to be her intended nationality. But it is good to see a crime series that explores characters that are dramatically rich and compelling. Granted, transsexual hitmen/women are rare, but the dynamic between the children, Mia and their outside tormentors is the focus, and it gives the drama heart.  

Hit & Miss is chillingly violent at times, provocative and tender. A nice change from Midsomer Murders and the like.

Cast: Chloë Sevigny Mia, Peter Wight Eddie, Vincent Regan John, Jonas Armstrong Ben, Karla Crome Riley, Reece Noi Levi, Roma Christensen Leonie, Jorden Bennie Ryan