Sunshine and laughter were the last things I imagined to find in Jack Thorne’s follow up to last year’s fantastic Bafta-winning >National Treasure. Perhaps it was the mere mention of a drama based around a social worker who ends up suspended when one of the foster children she supervises is abducted. It is a narrative that is usually the grim stuff of the evening news or Panorama, illustrated by the bleached-out camera lighting of police conferences, taped-off homes and snakes of hunched volunteers combing through park land.
They come later in the first episode but in the hands of cinematographer Matt Gray, (who also gave Broadchurch, Three Girls and Apple Tree Yard such spacious looks) the first half of Kiri skips around the sun-dappled streets of Bristol, the colours of the graffiti popping from the walls and even the flyovers looking jaunty rather than dangerous. Social worker Miriam is slipping something stronger than milk into her morning coffee, unsurprising when you learn later on that she had a son who died of cancer when he was 13.
But as played by the ever mesmerising Sarah Lancashire, Miriam is no two-dimensional washed-up, lonely, burnt-out character. Based Thorne has said on his real mum, Miriam is as hilarious and deeply caring as the women everybody knows in their life but rarely sees on TV. “We shouldn’t give kids to MILFs,” she warns a junior. “It does something funny to their heads.” Unlike the conventions of most dramas, she doesn’t need a man for a professional foil or love interest – instead, she has her arthritic lurcher Lizzie who has a cancer and chronic flatulence problem and a fantastically enigmatic look when Miriam starts to go increasingly off the rails.
Like National Treasure, Kiri observes the explosion as a scandal breaks and observes the effects on the protagonists as their lives unravel. Miriam takes Kiri from the middle-class white family trying to adopt her to visit her black birth grandparents, an excursion that goes horribly wrong and leaves Miriam suspended, accused in the national media of putting race before the child’s safety.
Those are, of course, hot-button issues for Thorne to play with but you never feel like they are dictating the characters’ actions. Which means anyone could directly or indirectly be responsible for Kiri’s grizzly fate. While Miriam and Kiri’s birth father Nate are both in the spotlight, you just know more lurks in the shadows that grow as the clouds block out the sun. What’s going on with the creepy son of the middle-class family? Or behind the impenetrable stare of the grandfather, played by the magnetic Lucian Msamati, for whom Thorne promises more in subsequent episodes.
Electronic artist Clark also provides an original score, free of the overwrought minor chord clichés that come with most new dramas. Totally gripping.
Source : https://inews.co.uk/culture/television/kiri-channel-4-review-lancashire-shines-gripping-cliche-free-drama-depth/
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