Tuesday, July 9, 2013


When it comes to suspense and intrigue, one definitely has this inner calling to sit through till the end even if the curled up legs under you dies from sleep. So one is riveted to the chair when BBC’s The Shadow Line, the seven part mini series about murder, deceit and conspiracy, is on, from beginning till end. But was it worth all that paralyzing numbness killing your lower half? Well, guess what! There is good news as well as bad news. 
To start with the good side, it is as much intriguing and riveting in plot elements, as it is striking in its visual imagery. The series deals with crime and human nature, dwelling prominently on the grey areas of morality. It follows the investigation of a murder, presented in visceral details in the opening shots, and carried out, at the same time, by the two affected parties, the cops and the criminals. In that way, we are presented two different views and approaches that more often than not collides, leaving sparks on the way. The plot tightens, thickness and deepens as we are unhurriedly (operative word) shown layers after layers of the characters and their lives closely knit around the chronicles of events involving, among other things, drug trafficking and dirty money.
One is fascinated by the way silence is handled all through. The calm after the storm, rather than the storm itself, is very often and interestingly used to incite chill in the viewer. They are then pepped up with half-lit faces and silhouettes making the chill to shiver. There are some pitiless bone-chilling scenes that will stick in your craw long after it is over.
Another commendable effort is the use of striking elements of film noir.  A few minutes into the narrative, it becomes quite evident that the director has preferred style to realism, and the style is noir, which is efficiently washed across the screen in consistent lavishness till the last minute. The slickness of the looks add to the precision with which The Shadow Line slashes through the story with the cunning of a surgical blade- clean and quiet.
Now, for the bad news, The Shadow Line was not a love at first sight. It took time before the  the long brooding conversations in whispers and the silhouettes against lit windows, sank in. The apathy that you feel towards the characters in the beginning of the show continues till its over. In brief, you don’t really care as to what happens to them, except that you enjoy the way it happens. There are times when you feel, “come to the point, already!” when the dialogues get all tedious and indirect in succession. I shall reserve my comments on the suspense, as that is for you to decide.
But all in all, The Shadow Line is a technically sound package with some great cinematic moments and it will certainly appeal to a section of the audience who unconditionally appreciate suspense thrillers and crime dramas with an artistic touch.

I picked up The Shadow Line at the suggestion of a friend whose recommendations had almost always worked for me in the past. The only difference this time is that he hasn’t seen it himself before suggesting. So we decide to watch it simultaneously and exchange our feedback. He is a great critic and the best creative writer (unsurpassed in humor, in particular) I have known personally, all my life. So read on his review here The Shadow Line. 

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