Friday, 31 August 2012

A Mother's Son starring Hermione Norris, Martin Clunes PREVIEW

Martin Clunes,  Alexander Arnold, Hermione Norris and Paul McGann. Pics: ITV

Rating: ★★★½ 

Story: When a teenage schoolgirl is found murdered in the woods near a local town in Suffolk, the news rips through the local community, and that of mother-of-two Rosie Haleton, who discovers damning evidence that could be connected to the heinous crime.

ITV1: Monday, 3 September, 9pm

Rosie (Hermione Norris) becomes suspicious
It's good to see Hermione Norris back on screen. We only saw her last year, admittedly, but that was in the totally forgettable Outcasts. A Mother's Son is much better, with Hermione playing a posh mum with a Hitchcockian dilemma – is her son a murderer?

A Mother's Son is a claustrophobic thriller, set in the family home of Rosie (Hermione Norris) and Ben (Martin Clunes), a couple who have set up home together after they've both separated from partners, each bringing a couple of teenagers into their rather grand Suffolk house.

Family pulled apart by suspicion
Tensions start to tear at Rosie and Ben's relationship, and that of their children – Jamie and Liv, Jessica and Rob – after a schoolgirl is found murdered in a reed bed. Rosie, a bit of a natural worrier, becomes suspicious of her own son, Jamie, when she finds a pair of his trainers, which he says he's lost, under his bed covered in blood.

Jess (Antonia Clarke)
Jamie is accused by Ben's daughter, Jess, of peeping on her in the shower, while Jamie is also always arguing bitterly with Rob. It's the kind of drama in which the teens are often filmed in moody shadows and we're given the impression any one of them could be hiding something.

Paul McGann as David
Added to the mix is Rosie's ex, David (Paul McGann), who is aggressive and super-protective of Jamie.

The theme of a family harbouring a killer is easy to get swept along in, as it begs the question: how would you react? Would you be horrified but frozen by the possibility that your son is killer (Rosie), go to the police because it's your duty (solicitor Ben), or cover up (David).

Martin Clunes, Nicola Walker and Alexander Arnold
Martin Clunes is surprisingly watchable in this serious role (and away from the treacle of Doc Martin), Nicola Walker is always good value, here playing the detective, and Alexander Arnold stands out with the most demanding part in the story, that of the difficult teenager.

This two-parter riffs well on its themes of torn family emotions, but the success or failure of  psychological dramas is how plausible the ending is. In this case convoluted twists are shunned, and the final moments are totally grounded, believable and emotional.

Cast: Hermione Norris Rosie, Alexander Arnold Jamie, Martin Clunes Ben, Paul MGann David, Antonia Clarke Jess, Jake Davies Rob, Ellie Bamber Olivia, Nicola Walker DC Sue Upton, Annabelle Apsion Kay Mullary, Juliet York Lorraine Mullary, Charles Daish DCI McLeish, Josef Altin Sean Christie