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I stumbled across this BBC adaptation while searching for something to take up a quiet weekday evening a few weeks ago and, since then, it's been in my to-do list. I finally got around to watching it recently, and I'm so glad I did.
In brief, it's a fairly classic story - parents lose a child and, as the anniversary of the child's disappearance looms, they travel away to the country in an attempt to heal the emotional wounds. But not all is what it seems with their rental house, and the mother starts to interpret strange occurrences as signs that her son is alive.
The unusual part about the story is that it doesn't just use the parent's grief as a vehicle for introducing the main plot points, abandoning it once the show reaches full tilt. Instead, the raw emotion is present throughout, with us seeing the grief inflicted by such a tragic event manifesting itself as blame, anger and denial on the part of the whole family. Indeed, it is this emotion that drives much of the plot forward and it's truly heartbreaking to watch this family in turmoil.
As the story unfolds, we start to see events occurring in the modern day tie in with those of the past, in the form of a fairly novel parallel storyline. This slowly builds the story and as the two worlds become intertwined and eventually collide, we are hooked, desperate for questions to be answered and for the obvious grief of a number of key parties to be lifted.
This leads, via a turbulent series of twists and turns, to a finale that it's impossible to turn away from, that has your heart in your mouth and elicits a desperate hope that everything will be somehow be alright.
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the very solid cast. In particular, the child actors play their parts as well as any adult - not just playing the often-cast 'creepy child' or 'helpless teenager', they develop their own personalities and truly make you feel immersed in their individual worlds.
For a show with a BBC budget, it is very solidly shot. The scriptwriting is very tight and good use of locations is made, with the costume design spot on for the earlier era.
Perhaps the only criticism is that the storytelling becomes a little bit loose towards the end. Once you're hooked for the final hour or so, it feels as if the show becomes a wee bit lazy with some of the plot points. Nevertheless, this is a relatively minor point in what is a fantastic two part drama.