tue 16/07/2024

Kin, BBC One review - in Dublin's not-so-fair city | reviews, news & interviews

Kin, BBC One review - in Dublin's not-so-fair city

Kin, BBC One review - in Dublin's not-so-fair city

Superb cast and powerful writing fuel this gripping gangland drama

Amanda (Clare Dunne), Michael (Charlie Cox), Eamon (Ciaran Hinds) and Frank (Aidan Gillen)

Folklore tends to depict Dublin as a convivial and picturesque city, with a bar on every corner full of revellers on wild stag weekends, but that’s not what we find in Kin. This is a chilly, menacing Dublin, full of modern but charmless architecture and gripped by organised crime.

Written by Peter McKenna and co-created by Ciaran Donnelly, Kin is the story of the Kinsella family and their fractious partnership with ominous crime lord Eamon Cunningham (Ciaran Hinds). The Kinsellas make their living by selling drugs supplied by Cunningham, so they’re at his beck and call. It’s a master-and-servant arrangement and they’re not very happy with it, especially when Eamon starts ratcheting up the financial percentages in his own favour,

Kin (as its title might suggest) is also a finely-drawn story about family relationships and how they split and distort under the pressure of their amoral trade. The Kinsellas’ business is being run by Frank (Aidan Gillen), who seems to be keeping a firm grip on proceedings until friction with the Cunningham outfit begins to threaten all-out war. The initial spark is the accidental fatal shooting by one of Cunningham’s men of Jamie, the teenaged son of Jimmy Kinsella (Emmett Scanlan) and his wife Amanda (Clare Dunne, pictured below with Scanlan). This came after an idiotic drive-by shooting by Frank’s son Eric (Sam Keeley) raised the threat level to critical. Eamon has offered a cash payment in recompense for Jamie’s unintended death, but this is not going to be forgiven, especially by Jamie’s mother. Amanda’s grief and simmering fury sets the tone for much of what follows.There are inevitably echoes of other dynastic crime sagas, from The Godfather to the Neapolitan epic Gomorrah, and like them, Kin succeeds because of the way it knits character and action together so seamlessly within its carefully drawn and defined locations. It might be a bit of a cliché to say that Dublin becomes one of the major players in the story, but the city does seem to take on a life of its own thanks to richly evocative camerawork and a subtly leached-out colour palette (a tip of the hat to director of photography James Mather), while David Holmes’s music adds an undertone of pulsing menace when the going gets rough.

Another of the show’s stylistic traits is its use of carefully-composed portrait shots of the major players, as if inviting the viewer to read their minds. That’s not always easy, since the relationships among the Kinsella clan are fascinating and frequently fraught. Jimmy’s brother Michael (played with great empathy by Charlie Cox), recently out of prison after being jailed for his involvement in the death of his wife, seems a sympathetic character existing in a state of quiet anguish as he tries desperately to reconnect with his estranged daughter. Yet we begin to discern a harder and more implacable character within, who, we sense, is going to loom larger as the drama develops. As the hidden depths of his relationship with Amanda begin to emerge, it throws a different light on the way Michael behaves with his brother Jimmy (pictured below, Charlie Cox and Ciaran Hinds).We also come to realise how fragile is Frank’s grip on the family business, not least when he and Jimmy pay a visit to Frank’s older brother – and Michael and Jimmy’s dad – Bren (Francis Magee), evidently the former figurehead of the family but currently serving jail time. Bristling with barely-controlled hostility, Bren can’t be bothered to hide his contempt for Frank. “You know what you look like, Frank? A fuckin’ hairdresser,” he sneers, while also casually ridiculing his brother’s homosexuality. He reckons their sister Birdie (Maria Doyle Kennedy) would have made a better job of running the family rackets, and he probably has a point.

If it looks like this is a macho man’s world, it’s not that simple. That’s the way the men might want it to be, but like Michael says to Amanda, “you’re smarter than any of them. You’ll find a way to fix it.” Watch this space.

We’re a bit behind the curve with Kin in the UK, since the first series aired in Ireland in 2021, and they’ve already seen series 2. I reckon it’ll be here soon though, by popular demand.

Comments

Talk about a massive spoiler. Glad I didn't read this before watching Episode 1.

So, one is meant to feel sorry for these characters while they are selling heroin to other people's children and crying over their own. They deserve to burn each other out!

 

In reality, of course. But this is nuanced drama, and ruthlessly moral while showing the fallout on very flawed human beings. Nemesis is around the corner...

So when your own child dies everyone is meant to care but you have been in the business of stealing the lives of children right out of under their parents! Live by the sword etc.....

 

Well done for glamourising. What about the dead?

 

 

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