STANDING ON GUARD

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The Fall

Release Year:         2013
Studio:         Acorn Media
Format:         Colour; Widescreen; NTSC
Rated:         Not Rated
# of Discs/Episodes:         2 / 5
Running Time:         306 minutes
DVD Release Date:         October 15, 2013
Screenwriter:         Allan Cubitt
Director:         Jakob Verbruggen
Actors:         Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan, Laura Donnelly, Bronagh Waugh, Been Peel, Archie Panjabi
DVD Features:         SDH subtitles
E:Top Picks Rating:         10/10

Acorn Media Write-up:    
Emmy and Golden Glove winner Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) smolders as a British detective summoned to Belfast to solve a high-profile murder. She quickly recognizes the signs of a serial killer, but the culprit (Jamie Dornan, Once Upon A Time) has already targeted his next victim. Over five engrossing episodes, this psychological thriller follows both the hunter and the hunted as they attempt to outmaneuver each other in “an intriguing game of cat and mouse” (The Sunday Times, U.K.).

Heralded as “one of the best BBC dramas in years” (The Guardian, U.K.), THE FALL proves as riveting as it is unsettling, granting rare insight into the mind of a sociopath. Critics rave that “Anderson is sublime, almost other-wordly, while Dornan… matches her for icy charisma” (Daily Mail, U.K.). The stellar cast also features Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife) and John Lynch (In the Name of the Father).

BONUS Behind-the-scenes featurette (12 min.).

Jon Ted Wynne Review:    
As one of maybe three people on the planet who has never seen an episode of The X-Files, I have rarely had the opportunity to see and enjoy Gillian Anderson’s work. Not long ago, while taking the tube in London, I saw a poster for a play Ms Anderson was doing in the West End. Given her background in theatre, this was impressive. Recently I saw her outstanding performance in The Crimson Petal & The White, and was very impressed by her performance as the madame of a brothel. Made up like an old crone, she was the opposite of Hollywood glamour.

Shame on me for not knowing much about one of the great actresses of our time.

The only other actress imaginable as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, seconded from the Metropolitan Police to review a murder investigation in Belfast, Ireland, is Helen Mirren. That says a lot. Anderson is amazing in the role and the way she gradually reveals that her DS Gibson is almost as cold as the murderer she is trying to capture, is breathtaking.

I’m not quite sure why the series is called THE FALL. I thought it might have something to do with the Fall from Grace, with all the inherent spirituality the subject suggests. After five episodes I still couldn’t decide why, though it hardly matters. THE FALL is an amazing achievement.

The rest of the cast is perfect. Particularly ultra-handsome Jamie Dornan, who is magnificent as the serial killer, Paul Spector. In fact, there really isn’t a false note among the huge cast list. One of the comments made in the behind the scenes featurette reinforces this, remarking that a lot of well-established Irish actors were champing at the bit to be involved in this A-level production.

It’s apparent by the writing, direction, acting and the cumulative impact of the entire production why the show was such a hit. A six-part second series has been commissioned, to begin filming in January, 2014. Since all of the major cast has signed to appear, this suggests that the story in series 1 isn’t over yet, a very tantalizing thought. Having said that, the recent announcement out of Hollywood that Jamie Dornan, the sex-obsessed killer in THE FALL, has been signed to star in the big screen adaptation of 50 SHADES OF GREY, may throw that idea into jeopardy. We shall have to wait and see. The hotly-anticipated 50 SHADES is a natural fit for Dornan, with its erotic blend of sex and obsession. If THE FALL was Dornan’s audition for the part of Christian Grey it couldn’t have been more convincing!

There’s a lot of abuse of women on hand, but the battle of the sexes is given a fresh take the way the series develops. Anderson’s character is pretty ruthless herself and is not above taking advantage of her position in life to get what she wants. The difference between her and murderer Spector is that she lives her life within the law, though sometimes outside the circle of conventional morality. By the way, it is not a spoiler to say Dornan plays the killer as we learn that almost immediately. This is not a “who done it?” or even a “How done it?” It is more of a “Why done it and is he going to get away with it?” There are some genuine surprises and chills within that approach.

There’s a lot of bad language which, once again, arguably isn’t necessary. This and some pretty rough sexual assault scenes are mentioned for those whose tastes may incline to a less graphic presentation.

THE FALL is wonderful television: fresh, intriguing and as good as anything out there. Approximately half of that success is directly attributable to the brilliant Gillian Anderson, with Jamie Dornan not far behind.

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