Sunday, 11 August 2013
Giving up on Southcliffe
I rarely sit down to watch a TV serial. It's mostly the time they demand and the work I'd rather do. But I have watched the first three episodes of Southcliffe. I have now given up.
I did watch the first two episodes as much for the filming and the way the narrative was organised - and the idea that the film was going to concentrate on the effect the killings had on the fictional town rather than doing yet another serial-killer frightener. That was a good idea while it lasted. But it didn't last very long and it ran out in episode three. Now the metaphors are showing and they are fairly big.
The small town, according to the reporter who blows his top because he remembers the wrong done to his father by the town, is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with small-town, white, Anglo-Saxon people. Those are the terms he used. They all deserve to be butchered. I hadn't been sure at that point that it was their whiteness or their Anglo-Saxon genetic make-up that had made the townspeople deserving of death - there are certainly no black characters in Southcliffe.
But then everyone in Southcliffe is mad or corrupt in some way. The father who has lost his daughter, the pub manager who has the hots for every woman in sight. The ex-SAS sadist. The people who work in the bar, the customers in the bar.
We know this is so because the Rory Kinnear character is telling us THE TRUTH. The fact that he is drunk at the time only convinces us the more.
The metaphors rule now. Any resemblance to the realism the film set out with is gone. All we have are realism-devices and smart cuts. But the metaphors are smug and come up with all the easy answers. The easiest answer is that the town (read white, Anglo-Saxons, Brits) breeds its killers out of guilt over corrupt industry and Afghanistan (or Iraq).
I prefer metaphors that don't shout so much, especially when they are banalities.
But this is lazy stuff parading as depth. I don't know why it takes a Hungarian-born writer brought up in two European capital cities to point this out.
The style is great. The slow film is great. I like slow film.
It's the the big easy metaphor I hate.