thu 13/05/2021

Too Close, ITV review - capable cast struggles with unrewarding material | reviews, news & interviews

Too Close, ITV review - capable cast struggles with unrewarding material

Too Close, ITV review - capable cast struggles with unrewarding material

Unconvincing TV treatment of Natalie Daniels novel

Impenetrable hostility: Denise Gough and Emily Watson

What may have happened here is that an intriguing book has been turned into a not so great TV series.

What may have happened here is that an intriguing book has been turned into a not so great TV series. Too Close was Natalie Daniels’s well-received first novel, and she has adapted it for this ITV three-parter under her real name of Clara Salaman. She used to play DS Claire Stanton in The Bill 20 years ago.

No complaints about the casting. Emily Watson plays psychiatrist Dr Emma Robertson, though unfortunately she barely gets a chance to get out of second gear. She’s trying to work out why her patient Connie Mortensen (Denise Gough) drove her car off a bridge into a river on a dark and stormy night, while she was carrying two children in the back seat. For the time being at least, Connie can’t remember a darned thing about the incident (in shrink-speak, she’s suffering from “dissociative amnesia)”.

How Connie even survived is something of a mystery, while the fate of the children is so far unknown. She certainly hasn’t come through her ordeal unscathed, and thanks to some enthusiastic work in the makeup department she resembles a female Worzel Gummidge who’s been struck by lightning, then chained to the back of a pickup truck and dragged across a few miles of cobblestones.

Dr Robertson tries to probe into Connie’s evidently very disturbed mind, but her questions ricochet off an impenetrable wall of hostility. Connie is angry, bitter, and choking on toxic quantities of bile. She strikes back by analysing the Doc, in a far from complimentary fashion. She depicts her as a sad and woefully conventional middle-aged woman – “little miss Mary Poppins” – trapped in a moribund relationship with “your nice but dim husband”. Connie is certain that Emma’s sex life is a disaster area, other than a “once a month duty fuck”. Nice.

Of course, some of this is true, but it’s a list of generic observations that anyone with a crushing chip on both shoulders and a talent for snide character assassination might have come up with. The dynamic is supposedly that Emma feels threatened by her patient’s piercing insights, as if her own mental stability is being eroded, but any seasoned mental health professional would surely be well used to this kind of thing. The snag is that Connie is so corrosively hideous that the viewer’s sympathy – this one’s, anyway – remains stubbornly disengaged.

But isn’t this just because we’re seeing tragic Connie in the aftermath of her terrible trauma? Well, things don’t improve that much when we get to the flashback scenes from her previous, “real” life. She’s a journalist and copy editor, and seems to live an accursed existence in a bubble of self-regarding dickheads. Perhaps inevitably, the things she sneers at in Emma’s life are exactly the items missing from her own. When Connie finds herself harbouring “feelings” for her new neighbour Ness (Thalissa Teixeira), she’s over the moon when her husband Karl suggests that they should both be free to take other lovers. Sadly, the outcome is exactly the opposite of the one she desires. Be careful what you wish for, babes.

I’ve cheated and looked ahead to the concluding third episode, which is not what you’d expect, though there’s a helpful public health warning about misusing anti-anxiety drugs. A bit of a let down, all things considered.

Comments

Agree wholeheartedly great performances and a terrible script. The final denouement is the worst with a very hurried resolution of plot loose ends.

You seem to have completely missed the whole point of the story. Life is not black and white, no evil doers or heros. It's a story about the realities of a broken person suffering mental health problems having a complete breakdown, and having no one around to pick them up when they fall. That's the real tragedy, not the car crash, not the children in hospital. All the heartbreak could have been avoided if someone had helped, truly helped her.

I agree. What led to the incident is her being psychotic,my son has been there after epileptic seizures and is so sure there are insects everywhere he tries to stamp on them. But then she sees her husband with the woman she thought fancied her and perceives them as evil,as well as thinking her just dead mum is there. Sudden withdrawal from addiction is terrifying and this shows it perfectly,as well as how other events pile up to cause disaster.

Only just watched this series (in one go!) Sasha, you couldn't have summarised the plot more clearly or accurately. Don't waste your precious time trying to educate those who choose to hide in the 'safety' of a black and white world.

Couldn't be bothered to read the rest of this article. The word 'shrink' is an American turn of phrase and bears no resemblance to Emily Watson's character, as a forensic psychologist. A shrink is a psychiatrist. Adam Sweeting should really do his research. Maybe then, an intelligent reader might read beyond the first paragraph. Bless him!

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