Show name: The Cry
Release date: 2018
Starring: Jenna Coleman, Ewen Leslie
Directed by: Glendyn Ivin
Studio: BBC One/ABC Australia
Length: 4 episodes of one hour
The Cry is a four-part TV series about the death of a baby and their parents’ response to that tragedy.
I enjoyed the show and felt that the four hour-long episodes kept the pace going nicely. There was everything you needed to know without any padding.
Joanna Lindsay (Jenna Coleman) is a new mother who finds being at home all the time unsupported by friends and family a burden.
I don’t blame her. Jo’s mother died when she was fifteen, there is no father.
Her partner Alistair Robertson (Ewen Leslie) has a stressful job with long hours, and her only friend has no children.
Alistair is Australian and his mother Elizabeth (Stella Gonet), ex-wife Alexandra (Asher Keddie) and teenage daughter Chloe (Markella Kavenagh) all live there.
Jo is left to care for baby Noah alone almost all of the time.
She finds his incessant crying overwhelming. Any parent of whatever gender will have no trouble understanding and sympathising.
Even on a flight to Australia for a holiday with Alistair’s family, he is comfortably sleeping while Jo is left to care for Noah.
The tendency of preachy strangers to comment and complain unhelpfully is well captured, as is the frankly unprofessional response of the air stewardess, who blames Jo for Noah’s crying.
Of course, no one criticizes the baby’s father.
On the first night of their arrival in Australia, Noah goes missing from his car seat when Jo goes into the convenience store to join Alistair.
A minute or two is all it takes.
Suspicion falls on Alexandra, and the police arrest her on suspicion of murder.
Noah’s body hasn’t been found, but Alexandra was in the town just a couple of streets away when he disappeared.
She is then freed when there proves to be insufficient evidence to charge or detain her.
Naturally, as the weeks pass, suspicion falls on the baby’s parents. Jo’s cool demeanour and Alistair’s controlling behaviour aren’t lost on the police or on the public.
Almost every one of the four episodes has a surprise pivot that keeps the story moving on.
The Cry was complicated in that the plot isn’t at all what you imagine it will be when it begins. It developed naturally and, partly because the direction was surprising, it always kept my attention.
Limiting the story to a total of four screen hours was a good idea. There was just enough to develop character and plot, and allow for credible explanations of the pivots. Any more might have become too complicated.
The frequent use of time shifts was well managed, with changes in clothing and hairstyles used effectively to establish when a scene was taking place (before Noah was born, after his birth, after his disappearance, sometime after in the present moment). I was never confused about what was happening or when.
The Cry was a really good TV show. The premise was imaginative, yet close enough to real cases of children going missing to be realistic. The idea of a baby disappearing without a trace is compelling for audiences, and the response of the police and the public is complex enough to warrant it receiving dramatic treatment.
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