Monday, November 11, 2013

Day Three Hundred and Fifteen - Exile: Episode 1, "Conspiracy, Disease, Family, Homecoming."

Holy Crap! This one snuck up on me!

Such a busy day with so much to do and so little time to do it in, I still managed to tear myself away from work and other responsibilities to sit down to Chinese takeout and Exile from BBC One... and man, was it worth it.

The opening moments have you reeling from a career and, well, life thrown down the toilet when main character Tom (John Sim) must flee his posh existence in London and return to the country where his sister is caring for their Alzheimer's-affected father (Jim Broadbent). While he's there, old demons haunt him amid the new realities of caring for his demented father and the story becomes one of reopening old wounds while dealing with the new ones.

Let me first say that this is some powerfully compelling storytelling. Tom is no saint and its established very early on how complex and flawed his character is. The same is eventually revealed about his father through a combination of flashbacks and present day revelations.

Stretching the moments between are rather poignant bits of weakness and connection as Tom hooks up with an old acquaintance, realizes she's married to his old best mate from school, and has to deal with the fallout of that while trying to piece together a mystery that begins to present itself in the form of old memories, taped confessions, and a steady stream of payments nobody knows anything about in hidden bank accounts.

This is really good television, and I'll be shocked if it doesn't get play over here in the States. It's on Netflix, now, of course, but I haven't heard of it turning up on BBC America yet or PBS (I'll have to search for that later).

The cinematography is pretty high grade, almost feature-level, and the acting is quite tremendous... especially from its two leads. I think I'd love Jim Broadbent in anything, but I'm pretty convinced by his portrayal of Alzheimer's (save for a bit of awkwardness in the beginning that comes off a little rehearsed). Still, kudos to him and John Simm who has just as much, if not more, intensity when it comes to his par.

If you haven't seen Exile and are looking for smart and emotive drama that plays with both ethics and family ties, check it out immediately. One of the best shows I've seen in a long time.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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