sat 22/02/2020

I Am Nicola, Channel 4 review - not really love, actually | reviews, news & interviews

I Am Nicola, Channel 4 review - not really love, actually

I Am Nicola, Channel 4 review - not really love, actually

Vicky McClure excels in claustrophobic relationship drama

Feeling trapped: Vicky McClure as Nicola

It’s a bold idea by director Dominic Savage, to create three improvised dramas for Channel 4 depicting women confronting different forms of crisis. To make it work he needed brave and powerful performers, and this first one starred Vicky McClure (the remaining two will feature Samantha Morton and Gemma Chan).

McClure’s Nicola was a hairdresser, caught in a deteriorating relationship with her partner Adam (Perry Fitzpatrick, pictured below with McClure), and she was reaching her wits’ end trying to find a solution. The piece was mostly shot in the couple’s suburban home, the claustrophobic setting intensified by restless, up-close camerawork that poked provocatively into the actors’ faces as they tried to disentangle their inflammable emotions. Every twitch of a cheek muscle or flicker of an eyelid was eaten up by the lens, posing both a technical and an artistic challenge which both actors proved more than equal to.I thought an hour of this might be too much, but it went the distance comfortably. At first Adam seemed reasonable and caring, apparently solicitous about Nicola’s feelings, but gradually the state of their relationship revealed itself. Adam took it for granted that Nicola would do the shopping and the cooking, and it didn’t occur to him that she might consider her job as important as he regarded his (though all we saw him doing was sitting at a desk in an office).

Between his grovelling apologies and unreliable promises, his selfish and controlling urges emerged. His irrational jealousy towards Nicola was both infuriating and ridiculous – he didn’t want her to go out for a drink with her workmates, or go to the gym because other guys might look at her – but his self-pity was even worse. “I don’t have anybody, do I?” he whined. “I only have you.” On a visit to their friends’ house, he behaved like an angry child, and a hint of criticism from his host Barry drove him to the brink of a punch-up in a matter of seconds.

Nicola tried to convince herself that it would somehow work out, but it began to look very much as if love’s young dream had left the building. When pushed too far, she gave as good she got. “I’ve made it a home, not you… I’m sick of being your fucking mum.”

We’ve all seen relationships like this (hopefully we haven’t been in one), and McClure and Fitzpatrick cut close enough to the bone to make you wince. Maybe couples therapists could use this as an educational resource.

His irrational jealousy towards Nicola was both infuriating and ridiculous


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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