wed 21/11/2018

Murder: The Third Voice, BBC Two | reviews, news & interviews

Murder: The Third Voice, BBC Two

Murder: The Third Voice, BBC Two

Return of Robert Jones's experimental straight-to-camera crime drama

Morven Christie: 'Murder' most austere

Three and a half years ago the writer Robert Jones and producer Kath Mattock came at the crime genre from an unusual angle. Instead of having characters in a murder case talk to one another, they all addressed the camera directly, each offering their own apparently unmediated viewpoint. The title took its cue from the direct style: Murder. Murder: Joint Enterprise won a Bafta. It has taken a while, but the single experimental film has given birth to a short series of three new cases.

The first, The Third Voice, is set in small-town Scotland. Two brothers-in-law go fishing, but only one of them returns. The other is retrieved from the river with a fatal stab wound in his chest. Various interested parties – relatives, suspects, witnesses, law enforcers and advocates – impart their version of events as if the viewer is, if not quite the one asking the questions, then in the jury of public opinion.

Morven Christie plays Corrine Evans, a police detective who attempts to piece together the information into a credible case for prosecution. Peter McDonald (pictured below) is the surviving angler Leo Durridge, Shauna Macdonald his wife Katrina. It emerges that they have a motive for murder: the dead man Rafe Carey, a father of five, was looking after their only child when she died suddenly of meningitis while they were on holiday. But the footprint of a drifter is found at the scene of the crime, and it seems he may have been implicated.

Jones and Mattock, in dogged pursuit of the legal and psychological authenticity so often missing from crime drama, sat for hours, days and weeks through real criminal court proceedings. So the plot has the messy flavour of the real thing, underpinned by the absence of filmic flourishes. Characters talk over images of CCTV footage and photographs of evidence. Somewhere inside the script’s tricksy quilt is a powerful story of grief and divided loyalty.

It has to be said that there is an awful lot of morale-sapping talk. “They love to talk, the middle classes,” explains Christie’s copper. “That’s their experience of life, persuasion, nuance, finesse.” Where regular drama knows the value of silence, there’s as much yakking in Murder as in one of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, only without the leavening reward of pathos or jokes. Jones foreswears such frippery as character development and narrative arcs, and drama’s basic coin of human interaction. The result feels a little too rigorously austere; however ingenious, there is the slight aura of being hectored by a plate-spinner. The ambitious format might work better over a shorter distance, but the vulgar tension of conventional drama isn't quite there.

The plot has the messy flavour of the real thing, underpinned by the absence of filmic flourishes

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Comments

Weird - watched as far as 30mins, but just SO boring - not for me.  Might be clever, might be artistic - perhaps I'm just not ready for it.

Horrible show.....got sick of it in the first few minutes. People just talking about the show instead of actors actually doing the show. It will drive you crazy !!!

I tried for 5 mins and I just can't take it! I think if it was a different Director then the reviews would be really bad. Yes, "The Killing" was great but this was rather annoying and I'm afraid I can't feel the excitement that crime drama should be.I totally agree that it really can drive you crazy!!!!

This looks more like story telling for Radio instread of TV.

 

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters