Harlan Coben's Stay Close (2021)
The start of my TV year has begun, and it features yomping around the woods on the outskirts of Blackpool. Odd that, considering that this story comes from the now (in)famous American thriller writer Harlan Coben, responsible for one of the more intriguing TV series of the last twelve months, The Stranger, who now appears to be whoring off his work to anyone that promises to do something with it, it would seem.
Starring a host of faces you may recognise but can't quite put a name too, it is helmed by James Nesbitt as good-natured, though sometimes stressed policeman Michael Broom and Cush Jumbo as the happily married wife and mother with a past she would rather not became common knowledge.
There is able and equally curious support from Richard Armitage (also from The Stranger), Jo Joyner and a more than welcome turn from Eddie Izzard as this story unfolds sometimes quicker than you would like and sometimes teasing and petulant in its refusal to relinquish that which would have made the whole thing much more sensible, but also cut the running time by more than half, such is his skill.
Coben is something of an enigma, a curio that continues to defy convention even with this seemingly obvious recipe for success. His stories are often similar and he has become notorious for regaling the same thing in a different place with different names and calling it unique and original, which often it isn't.
There is alot going on here, however and like other efforts, it feels like it belongs on the other side of the Atlantic. On several occasions I baulked at what I was seeing, thinking 'well that would never happen in Blackpool,' so I would question the choice of location for a story best suited elsewhere.
This is not to say that this is a waste of time. It is edgy and clever, over-complicated and tense, but from a personal perspective as mentioned above, it feels off kilter. I would be keen to see the casting of an American production of the same script.