Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Mostly Paranoid

Watched Shawshank Redemption again (or most of it; missed a chunk near the beginning) the other night. Must be the third of fourth time. It's intriguing that a movie that takes so much time over its story is so watchable. The acting is detailed and strong, but it can't be just that. And it can't be the story, because once you know the ending, you won't forget it.

We've also been watching Paranoid on Netflix. A British/German co-production about an investigation into the seemingly out-of-the-blue murder of a young female doctor in a playground full of children - including her own.

Three detectives are on the case: Nina, played with verve by Indira Varma, switching from sane to slightly crazy at the drop of a hat; Bobby (Robert Glenister), well into middle-age, and with a tendency to panic attacks; and Alec (Dino Fetscher) the youngest of the three: likely to go off full-throttle, but also capable of understanding Nina (to her surprise), with whom he falls in love.

Their German counterparts (the reason for the murder turns out to be in Germany) are Christiane Paul (Linda) and Dominik Tiefenthaler. Linda has some issues of her own, which aren't revealed until the last episode; otherwise she's sane - running a household of boys with ease - and sharp, and delights in Skyping her British colleagues.

Like all British detective series, it relies greatly on character. Sometimes there's almost a bit much character here: Bobby gets himself involved with a woman, Lesley Sharp, who's is the key witness to the first murder, and she's forever trying to bring him into a calmer place, being a Quaker. But in general the interaction moves the story forward, because, being a relatively small town, detectives and suspects are interlinked by existing relationships.

It relies a bit too strongly on coincidence, and sometimes the weather changes without warning, mostly for effect. I know that in Britain, in winter, day can turn into night fairly quickly, but here, at more than one point, it does it in seconds. And, as so often in thrillers, people manage to get from A to B between scene changes, even though another character has just spent a great deal longer getting there.

Small quibbles, and never quite as bad as some of those US series where the detectives are always at the right place at the right time, usually after the computer whiz kid has done a few clicks on the keyboard. Considering how many serial killers they present in some of these US series, and how regularly they're dispatched, it's a wonder there are any left. And why do US serial killers almost always kill women, rarely men? Peculiar.

Enough: watch Paranoid if you get a chance.

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