sun 17/12/2017

Murdered For Being Different, BBC Three review - unbearable but unmissable | reviews, news & interviews

Murdered For Being Different, BBC Three review - unbearable but unmissable

Murdered For Being Different, BBC Three review - unbearable but unmissable

Sophie Lancaster, killed for being a goth, is at the heart of the online channel's latest real-life dramatisation

Gothic horror: Nico Mirallegro and Abigail Lawrie in 'Murdered For Being Different'BBC/Des Willie

Heaven alone knows we have pressing anxieties enough to preoccupy us, but if you the emotional bandwidth to accommodate more, the iPlayer can oblige. Available now on BBC Three is the latest in what now becomes a trilogy of heartrending dramas with Murdered in the title. Murdered by My Boyfriend and Murdered by My Father, both of which won Baftas for actors in leading roles, is now followed by Murdered For Being Different.

As expected of this immensely impressive strand, it doesn't get any less unbearable to watch an innocent young woman fall victim to inexplicable violence. And yet this Murdered is different. The two other films are narrated from beyond the grave by the titular victim, who in both cases knows her domestic killer. Without changing their names, Murdered For Being Different reconstructs the story of two young people assaulted a decade ago by a gang of youths. One of them survived. The other never emerged from a deep coma and had her life support switched off less than two weeks later. What singled out Rob Maltby and Sophie Lancaster was the fact that they were goths: two conspicuous peacocks in a small working-class Lancashire town. Sophie in particular confidently wore multiple piercings around her lips and threaded her long dark hair with strips of bright rope.

It is clear that Sophie has laid down her life to save his

As dramatised at the start of Nick Leather’s back-and-forth script, her look in particular is a source of innocent fascination for a group of kids in hoodies they encounter one night in a corner shop. But as they muster in a nearby skate park to chat, drink and take pictures, the seniors in their peer group, like territorial silverbacks, are threatened by their sheer otherness. Moshers is their derogatory-sounding term for them – Lancastrian slang for goths. Insecurity and suspicion duly breeds horrific violence.

Murdered For Being Different is in part a sweet love story in the course of which Rob, the less confident of the two, learns at Sophie’s feet to shun fear and be proud of his identity. In return he paints her back with dark angelic wings. One scene in which Rob spends his last pennies to present Sophie with the final Harry Potter book is enchanting and, for BBC Three’s target demographic, will be deeply touching. Their story is counterweighted by that of Michael Gorman, an amalgam of several real-life figures. A witness to the attack, he calls for an ambulance before retreating shell-shocked back into the bosom of his peer group, while a caring detective constable (Chanel Cresswell, familiar from This Is England) attempts to wear down his resistance to ratting on his mates, assisted by his strikingly young mother (Sophie McShera, aka Daisy from the Downton kitchen, pictured below with Cressell and Reiss Jarvis as Michael)Murdered For Being DifferentAlthough it was Sophie who lost her life, the story spends its time by the hospital bed of Rob, who slowly recovers consciousness only to learn that his girlfriend has died. When the attack is eventually shown, it is clear that Sophie has laid down her life to save his. You need an exceptionally strong stomach to watch as feral thugs make their prolonged, twin-pronged attack.

Abigail Lawrie as Sophie, Nico Mirallegro as Rob and Reiss Jarvis as Michael all give committed performances of great integrity. Director Paul Andrew Williams also shot Murdered by My Boyfriend and once again uses a shrewdly selected playlist to push the story along. Nick Leather’s non-linear script cleverly trips up your expectations as you await the inevitable, above all in the quiet defiance of a denouement in which Rob draws on some of his late girlfriend’s reserves of courage to carry on daring to be different. If only there were no reason to make these films. But like its stablemates, Murdered For Being Different is not to be missed.

@JasperRees

You need an exceptionally strong stomach to watch as feral thugs make their prolonged, twin-pronged attack

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5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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