The following review is based on a watch of the complete season. However, we have endeavoured to keep it Spoiler-Free.
Television, these days, never seems to be able to frame anything for what it is, it’s always looking for the next ‘thing’. Take Keeping Faith, a BBC Wales production (it was first aired in its native tongue under the name Un Bore Mercher or Any Wednesday Morning), from the pen of Matthew Hall, the author of the well-regarded Jenny Cooper novels and a veteran TV scripwriter, it’s a mystery drama starring Torchwood‘s Eve Myles as a Solicitor whose life goes to pot after her husband disappears while she’s on maternity leave for her third child. On paper, it’s a relatively interesting set-up for such a programme but it still suffers under the weight of every other publication talking about it calling it ‘The new’ Hinterland or ‘The Welsh Broadchurch‘(which also featured Myles) which are big shoes to fill but more than that, is a level of expectation that very little can hope to live up to.
Here’s a thing, there’s a lot to like in the programme if you’re willing to look past it’s, quite promiment flaws. In presentation, it does a lot that to distinguish itself, from its alarmingly relaxed and upbeat soundtrack through to its close-up heavy cinematography and beautiful Welsh locales, the lush, visual strain of dramatic irony running through its core is quite effective at building a sense of foreboding but mixing it with a false sense of security resulting in the twists and turns in the story feeling more effective than they might have been in less consistent hands. Equally, this is very much Myles’ show, even down to her character, Faith, getting the great English-language title pun and the camera clearly loves her, her being front-and-centre of almost every shot. For a lot of actors, this kind of intense cinematographic scrutiny might expose weaknesses in their performance but Myles is more than capable of handling not only the focus of the camera but also of the scripts with ease.
Sadly, there’s not much in those scripts for her to work with and that’s mostly down to a weak central mystery. It’s the sort of programme where you really need to feel some form of emotional connection to the central players in order for the events that follow to have any resonance and yet most of the actions made are often quite alien and confusing, especially with Faith’s haphazard approach to parenting and constant playing with her hair. Yet, Faith is by far the most and arguably, only, developed character in the programme which is perhaps an intentional choice as with so much intense focus on her, it is possible we are seeing all these other characters through her eyes but it doesn’t exactly create compelling television. Whereas sometimes errors like this can befall pilots or sophomore episodes, these are issues that pervade the entire programme and do somewhat hamper enjoyment.
Here’s the thing though, this is just my opinion and if you look around at reviews, is one that isn’t exactly in line with the majority of reviews. So feel free to take this with a pinch of salt and make up your own minds about it but for my money, with so much in the way of good television available, why would you waste your time on something less than spectacular? Quite frankly, the next Hinterland, this is not.
Keeping Faith is available on DVD now.