137 of 145 people found the following review helpful
When Gillian Anderson recently popped up in a recurring role in NBC's "Hannibal," it occurred to me that I hadn't seen her in a non-British production in quite some while! Although born in Chicago, she lived in London for many years as a child (ages 2-11) before coming back to the states. Her heart seems to still be in England where she has, once again, resided since shortly after the "X-Files" completed its run. That's okay by me, though, because she's done some incredible work that has continued to stretch her as an actress. Some of my favorites include her fascinating interpretation of Miss Havisham in 2011's "Great Expectations" and her Lady Dedlock in the brilliant 2005 "Bleak House." She does so much period work, it's nice to catch something a bit more contemporary in setting. So I had high expectations for Allan Cubitt's five part serial killer drama "The Fall." Anderson plays a no-nonsense detective from London's Metropolitan Police Service (the Met) brought to Belfast to assist in a murder investigation. She's tough and strikingly enigmatic. She's gives us just enough back story, you want to learn more about her as a person. This is not necessarily a showy role, though, but a precise and internally realized one as much is kept close to the vest.
"The Fall" is uniquely structured in a number of ways. Although we closely follow Anderson's role in the investigation, equal time is spent with the murderer (Jamie Dornan from Once Upon A Time). This is never a mystery to be solved, but a contrast of two obsessed personality types. Interestingly enough, it is Dornan who appears to have the more balanced and fulfilling life with an important job as a grief counselor, a supportive wife, and two loving kids. Anderson, meanwhile, seems to make no long-lasting connections. Her close human interactions are decidedly briefer and of a more sexual nature. Both sides of this story are played with surprising restraint and calm. The show really allows us to spend quality time with these two characters (and others integral to the narrative). There are some peripheral stories that play out as well, highlighting the tumultuous conditions that overlap within Belfast politics, a compromised police force, and a strong criminal element. In only five parts (approximately an hour each), there is only so much material that can be explored. But I found the side plots intriguing and an important part of understanding these particular police operations. "The Fall" has been greenlit for another season, so we'll see how things pan out in future episodes.
A word of warning, though, I have heard that some people are upset by a lack of resolution to be found in "The Fall." I, personally, think that there was resolution and I LOVED the way these episodes ended. It isn't necessarily what you might expect from a crime saga, but it is entirely plausible. Not everything needs to be wrapped up in a conventional manner, that's just not how life works! I was plenty satisfied! "The Fall" is definitely positioned to be enjoyed by a thoughtful adult audience. Anderson is terrific, and Dornan pulls off being both relatable and creepy (not an easy trick, to be sure). But all of the supporting performances are solid. Other notable names include Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife) as a medical examiner and John Lynch as a Belfast officer with past links to Anderson. This is both smart and literate entertainment. It's tough minded and absolutely fascinating. I don't know where the world of popular entertainment would be without the ubiquitous serial killer plot thread. But this takes a familiar story and looks at it in a fresh way. About 4 1/2 stars. KGHarris, 6/13.
84 of 90 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2013
Crime is quite popular when it comes to television. The crime procedural has been a television staple for many years; I mean, just look at any drama on CBS' primetime lineup. The serial killer subgenre of crime television has become particularly popular in recent years. Spurred by the success of shows like Dexter, many networks have attempted to create their own serial killer series with mixed results like FOX's The Following, A&E's Bates Motel, and NBC's Hannibal. Enter BBC Two with The Fall, a five-part serial killer drama with a slow, methodical, and deliberate pace that is absolutely terrifying.
British television has seen a surge of popularity in recent years with hits like Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, and Sherlock crossing the Atlantic to find popularity here in the States. Personally, I've now seen three British crime shows (Sherlock, Luther, and The Fall), and all three are quite good in their own way. Starring Gillian Anderson (Agent Scully of The X-Files fame), The Fall revolves around a serial killer terrorizing Belfast by murdering young professional women in their homes. Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Anderson) is brought in to investigate the murders.
The plot of The Fall is incredibly straightforward; the police are out to catch a serial killer. On its own, that doesn't sound very interesting. What makes The Fall interesting is the time it takes allowing the audience to get to know the serial killer. We know that Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) is the killer; there's no mystery for us. But the series spend an equal amount of time going back and forth between Gibson's hunt to catch the killer and Paul's everyday life as a husband, father, and grief counselor. It feels reminiscent of The Wire, where the audience spent equal time with the drug lords and street dealers and the police who were working to arrest them.
There are supporting characters who work to a varying extent; Bronagh Waugh fares best as Paul's wife Sally-Ann. Her illusions about her husband are shattered as she begins to discover some of the truth about him. But the series is truly anchored by Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan. Anderson has proven herself to be a capable actress over the years, and she continues that here. Her steely and icy demeanor occasionally betray a vulnerability, a serious desire not just to catch the killer but to provide justice for his victims.
Yet Dornan is the real find. His performance is both chilling and unsettling. His interactions with his family seem genuine and touching, but his precision and his manipulation are truly frightening. Indeed, the fact that the series takes so much time to examine Paul and his life forces the audience to examine and grapple with the similarities that exist between him and Stella. It forces us to look in the eye of a serial killer and see ourselves in the reflection. It's a terrifying proposition, but Dornan is truly fantastic. Of course, he's aided by Allan Cubitt's wonderful script. The writing truly delves into the mind of Paul, and the results are simply extraordinary.
But the script excels with the plot as well as the characters. Like I said, The Fall is pretty straightforward in its story. But that means there are not plot holes, no convoluted side stories that don't make sense, no contrivances simply to move the story forward. There are some side plots that don't feel quite as essential as the main plot, but they work well in providing context and depth to the characters. The Fall moves forward with a singular mind and purpose, unfolding at its own pace and in its own time. It's not a very fast-paced show, so don't expect a lot of action or excitement.
The show is deliberate, precise, and methodical, rather like Spector's method of killing. Make no mistake; The Fall may not be action-packed, but it's incredibly tense, designed almost like a Hitchcockian-style thriller. Jakob Verbruggen's direction is incredibly self-assured and it greatly heightens the intensity of the entire series. Indeed, the opening five minutes is a silent sequence of Spector stalking his next victim. Not a single thing is said and not a single music cue is used to heighten the tension, but trust me, there's no need to heighten the tension.
I will say up front that you should not expect a great deal of resolution from the ending of the first season of The Fall. The series has already been renewed for another season which will air in 2014, and the ending of this season sets up a fascinating conflict and relationship for the next season. So while there might not be a lot of resolution right now, that in no way inhibits the overall experience of this fantastic season of television.
Yes, there are a lot of serial killer dramas out there on television right now, and there are even more crime dramas on the airwaves. But The Fall is not to be missed. A fantastic import from the BBC, The Fall's precise, deliberate, and methodical pace and story is truly mesmerizing. It's not necessarily a show that will be enjoyed by the masses, but for those looking for a serious entry into the crime, serial killer, or psychological thriller genres, you won't go wrong with The Fall. Anchored by terrific performances from Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan, The Fall is one of the best shows out there right now.
51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
This is a tense and disturbing series about a Detective Superintendent, Stella Gibson, who works for the Met and is called to Belfast, Ireland to investigate a murder of a young, professional woman. Early on Stella believes it may be the work of a serial murderer and is soon proven right.
Simultaneously, we meet the villain, who lives a double life and seems an unlikely candidate to perpetrate these murders. So, it's a bit cat and mouse as Stella begins to identify just what kind of individual is doing these crimes and why, drawing nearer to the killer.
The acting is subdued and deep. There's a menacing atmosphere pervading. For my own taste, I prefer less violent and graphic crimes. However, the series was so well-done and the acting riveting by Gillian Anderson as Stella that I couldn't not watch. The plot and denouement is original and I will sample the next installment in the series. 5 stars if you are okay with the violence and some nudity. I like cerebral mysteries with less violence, but with the same quality of acting and originality of plot. Enjoyed the Belfast backdrop.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
For four hours and forty-five minutes of this five-hour series, I thought I was going to give it five stars. It gets so much right. Much of the credit, I think, goes to director Jakob Verbruggen for his smooth and dispassionate direction, and for getting performances out of his actors that reflect the "seeing the action from outside" sensibility. Unlike the famous UK dark procedurals of old, like Cracker and Luther (both of which I enjoy), this one doesn't wear its heart on its sleeve. The actors don't "emote;" don't have scenery-chewing "give me an award" moments. Rather than use their talent to make us know them intimately from the moment we see them, they use their talent the way actors should: they give inward performances that convince us their characters have deep inner lives and a complex logic to what they are doing, but without giving away so much we are sure what they are thinking or what they will do next in any given situation. This is more realistic, it increases suspense, and it gives the audience something to think about and discuss after watching. Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan, in particular, as the detective in charge of a serial murder case and her quarry, underplay but give fascinating performances of deep intensity. I was hypnotized by the quality of the acting and direction in this series.
Then, I got to the climax of Series One. Five hours in and things are starting to pick up. The slow-burn directing style is starting to pay off in grinding suspense. And at the end -- SPOILER -- nothing happens. No conflict in any of the plots or subplots are resolved, not one. It's not just that the bad guy gets away; at least that would be an ending. But the cops are incrementally closer and the criminal moves incrementally farther away, and various other subplots revolving around police corruption and the killer's accidental feud with some Belfast thugs are left hanging also. Characters that look like they had something to do, I was still waiting around for them to do it. Nothing happens. The series just stops in the middle.
I have a choice to make here. I followed the HBO series Carnivale as it slowly, slowly seemed to progress towards something big, and I watched it for a long time before I realized the entire purpose of the series was to prolong itself by promising big dividends, but it was never going to deliver because then it would be over and the people making it would have to find new jobs. My hours with Carnivale were a time sink I vowed never to repeat. Now here I am, five hours into a story that could have ended in five hours and with no end in sight. Am I gonna watch Series Two? I'm going to have to think long and hard about that.
30 of 38 people found the following review helpful
we all best know Anderson from her role as agent scully in the x-files. here she plays the antithesis of scully. she is a senior inspector called into Ireland to solve a serial murder case. she is high handed, off putting, not interested in men except as one night stands--she could be a male senior policeman in short. although there is no shortage of serial killer stories on tv, this one is quite compelling. we follow the killer as minutely as we follow Anderson. this must be intended as a series as you are ready for follow up on the story in more episodes at its end.
if you are wondering about where her red hair went, Anderson dyed her hair red to play scully. she was a blonde before taking the role. at conclusion of the scully role, she went back to being a blonde.
this series is also currently available on netflix streaming.
Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2014
Pure murder mystery magic! LOVE seeing the hunt from the killer's perspective as well as the police searching for him! Gillian Anderson is sublime! Jamie Dornan does the impossible by being a ruthless killer AND devoted father - you feel invested in him from his first scene! Perfection all around. Can't wait for series 2!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2014
The one and only problem with this series is that there is only one season to see. I got so hooked on it that I'm now having serious withdrawal symptoms! Great story, great acting, great direction and photography. If there is ever a season 2, I'll be first on the list to buy it!
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2013
Last things first: this nicely watchable five-episode show has at least three main plot threads, and more than ten minor ones, and not a single, solitary one of them is tied up. That's annoying. Some people say it's like real life, and therefore they don't mind. More power to them. I'm always glad when people are happy. But I myself think of a crime drama, especially a serial killer crime drama, as artificial, as artificial as a limerick, and to me this five-hour show was like a limerick without its last two lines.
Spoilers follow, fans, but since the show won't even begin to be over till the second season ends, sometime in May 2014 from what I hear, at worst I'm spoiling only the first half of the drama.
1. In the last episode, the serial killer phones the investigating cop and tells her he'll quit and she'll never catch him. We're not supposed to believe him, but that's more of an ending than the other plot threads get.
2. The heroine's boss is protecting a whole gang of lowlifes, because though he's a high-level police official he's under the thumb of some politician, whose son is in the gang. Not one character from this lowlife gang is caught, except for a police officer who got involved with it. Very few of them are even brought in and charged. Yet they occupied more than an hour of screen-time. How are they relevant to the serial-killer theme? That isn't discussed either.
3. The serial killer is an ordinary family man -- and a hard-driving versatile one at that. He does such good work at his job that his co-workers resent and undermine him, and the fact that he's a serial killer in no way impairs his ability to tell his bosses off when they pull petty regulation reprimands on him. But what will happen to his family if he's caught? How will his wife react? How will his daughter, already apparently emotionally damaged and unconsciously suspicious of her own father, get over seeing what he is? Answer: the family just barely begins to show some of the stress and wham! the season is over.
I couldn't begin to cover all the smaller problems that are left stranded. A policeman is shot seven times in the back and three times in the head. We never find out who killed him, let alone see that person brought to justice. The serial killer gets off on torturing thirty-something career women, but that doesn't stop him from getting highly involved with a sexually precocious fifteen-year-old babysitter. What happens to her from all this? Again, we don't find out.
You can't help envying that serial killer, though. His wife wants him; his babysitter wants him; he has such strong effect on a grieving couple he's counseling that the husband threatens to kill him and the wife obeys his every command. He's incredibly strong from constant exercising, including jogging and chin-ups. And his serial killing hobby shows he's not only a good researcher and stalker, but also gifted at sketching and novel-writing (he produces accounts of his crimes illustrated by photographs and drawings). He's billed as "an ordinary guy," but he's obviously the Leonardo da Vinci of serial killers. Did I mention that he quotes Nietzsche? But maybe you already guessed that.
Meanwhile top cop Gillian Anderson comes up with cliché after cliché about serial killers, things like, "It's the power that he likes!" She utters these clichés as if she is slowly, laboriously working them out right there in front of us, though she could hardly have reached her present high rank in the police if she hadn't known them for years. She's even more impressive than the serial killer. She can pick up any man she wants in a second, but it turns out that after a man has had one sweet night with her, he's obsessed with her forever. She doesn't know that (she just knows it's easy for her to pick up men), so she's utterly ruthless. One of her ex-lovers says to her, "I would have left my wife for you. My children." She stares at him blankly.
Oh, and why then didn't the guy leave his wife and children for her? Not explained. Perhaps she was so uninterested in him even a ruined sex-slave could see it. Perhaps he would have had to give up his golf games too, and that was too much for him. Just one more dropped plot thread.
The show is a lot of fun to watch, though deliberately slow-paced. It helps to think of it as the first five hours of a ten-hour drama but who knows? Maybe the sequel won't end anything either. Maybe it's always going to be just like life, and you can stop watching it and look out the window instead.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2015
So just finished season 2 of The Fall which just came out almost 2 years after season 1st. I have never experienced a show that has declined in logic and common sense from the previous incredible 1st season. I can't tell if it's bad writing or editing or probably both but by the end you just question how this got green lit with all the inconsistent continuity and just irrational scenes. We know this is a fictional show, but the subject matter is very much based in reality and yet, with every episode , we are asked to believe more and more in absurdity. One of the best is when the detectives finally get the name of the killer and they don't arrest him. They allow him to continue on with his life in hopes that he will lead him to a victim he has hidden. I'm sorry, but that is ridiculous. The guy has killed 4 woman they know of and to have him out on the streets to possible kill again?!? Another blunder scene is at the end when he leads them to the spot where he has his victim hidden. He takes them to this dense forrest and tells Andersons character to walk into the woods about 100 yards. She walks up into the woods on a very small path with trees and goes farther and farther into the woods. Finally coming to a ditch with a car parked there. So we are to believe that a guy drove a car deep into the woods with all those trees and no clearing to drive on?!?
There are many irrational scenes like these through out the 6 episodes. I also love how they portray this guy like a Ninja. This guy can get into anyone's house or apt with the stealth of a super villain. It wouldn't seem so far fetch if the places were unoccupied, but just about every break-in the victim is home and doesn't ever notice or hear anything until he is ready for them to. There is even a scene where he breaks into Andersons hotel room while she is out. She comes back, he hides, another cop visits her and he is still hiding and somehow sneaks out without being detected. Seriously? 1 bed 1bath hotel room. Just like a Holiday Inn would have. Could you walked into your hotel and spend a hour with someone else and not notice a 3rd party, lol. Its these lack of logical details in a show that wants you to take it seriously that makes it fail. It wants to be intelligent on the surface, but under that it's all just the work of a amateur writer who really based this in a comic book world.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2013
This series (miniseries?) is very dark, very intense, and amazingly well-done. Gillian Anderson, as the take-no-crap English police investigator tracking a sadistic killer, is showcased in some of the best work of her career. The sub-plots and supporting characters are all very good, and add to the tense atmosphere and political intrigue of an English officer working in Ireland. The series is realistically written and filmed, causing a kind of dilemma: the story is riveting and horrifying at the same time. Viewers watch both the killer and police at work, wondering who will triumph.