Try and catch this, it’s great!
Isn’t it a nice feeling when you go into something with low to no expectations and get pleasantly surprised? So it was with the RTE/BBC co-produced drama The Fall. Starring Gillian Anderson as the no-nonsense Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, a Met Police officer who has come to Belfast to review the murder of a Unionist politician’s daughter, The Fall is beautifully shot and scripted.
Somewhat unusually for a crime drama, we know almost immediately whodunnit. Paul Spector is a creepy-as-a-locked-basement-door counsellor who has a penchant for dead women in naked poses. Jamie Dornan, previously best-known as Kiera Knightley’s ex, captures the blank, automaton like menace of Spector perfectly. He’s genuinely scary.
We’re so inured to sexually perverted serial killers by now that it takes something extra to shake us. The Fall depicts Spector as a happily married man, with a jolly wife and two adorable children. It is probably this aspect of his character that is the most frightening of all. Spector tells his wife that we can never truly know another person’s mind. How many times in recent years have we heard “I never suspected a thing” following a horrible crime?
Spector is on the prowl for another victim, and is currently stalking a pretty brunette solicitor. Such is the menace imbued by Dornan, you fear for every female he interacts with, from his giddy teenage babysitter to his little daughter.
Anderson is excellent (with a faultless English accent) as the coldly efficient Gibson, a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t shy about getting it. There’s even humour in her interactions with the local PSNI, who seem more interested in games of table football than eerie murders. They’re shown as direct, old style police officers who know about drug busts and terrorism; Gibson asks if explosives have been found following the death of a known criminal; but no, it’s just drugs. Belfast has enough on its plate beside a serial killer.
Belfast itself, moodily shot, the contrast between sleek bars and colourful murals, is a much a character as any cast member. We’ve had Scandi noir and Scottish noir; now we have Northern noir. And befitting the Six Counties’ past, it’s blacker than pitch.
The Fall airs on BBC2 tonight at 9pm. To keep up to date with Randomdescent, you can like the Facebook page.