sun 19/09/2021

I Am Victoria, Channel 4 review - improvised drama in need of more substance | reviews, news & interviews

I Am Victoria, Channel 4 review - improvised drama in need of more substance

I Am Victoria, Channel 4 review - improvised drama in need of more substance

Powerful performance by Suranne Jones lacks dramatic context

Control issues: Suranne Jones as Victoria

This opener to the second series of Dominic Savage’s I Am… dramas starred Suranne Jones as the titular Victoria, an ultra-driven career woman surrounded by the trappings of material success but spinning into a dark vortex of d

epression. Jones’s intense performance is winning her showers of plaudits, but the film’s improvisational approach and the absence of structure or context meant that her efforts were partially wasted. The jerky, close-up shots focusing relentlessly on every twitch, grimace, or flash of panic on her face eventually induced a kind of seasickness.

We were shown the destination, but nothing about the journey. Clearly, Victoria’s seemingly impeccable nuclear family was heading for its own China Syndrome. Ashley Walters (pictured below), playing her husband Chris, is a powerful actor in his own right, but he was given the unrewarding task of tiptoeing gingerly round his increasingly unapproachable wife, with even his mildest comments interpreted as being judgmental or “taking the piss”. His failure to replace the cushions on the bed earned him a screaming rebuke, while his genial request for a kiss was bulldozed off the agenda by Victoria’s tirade about how she to spend half an hour answering emails before she could do anything else.Chris was more like a prop than a three-dimensional character, so their relationship never felt believable. Chris’s comments that Victoria “should talk to someone” and that he’d done everything he could do suggested that their problems had been brewing for some time, but how? Other than the fact that Victoria had worked ferociously hard for her success, which had taken precedence over taking care of her mother and fomented seething resentment in her always-skint sister Debs (Alice Feetham), nothing was revealed. What was this all-consuming career (something to do with property or interior design)? Did Chris have a job too, or was he a house-husband looking after their two children? Was he, perhaps, resentful at having had to give up a career of his own?

Anyway, Victoria’s efforts had created an ultra-modern, all-white paradise which had become a trap which was steadily crushing her. Her efforts to maintain control, for instance with her punishing exercise regime, merely entangled her further. Her attempt to host the perfect dinner party, micro-curated to the last detail (Thai green curry, frozen berries with white chocolate sauce etc), prompted an emotional detonation which ended with her bemused guests being asked to leave.

A hastily tacked-on coda in which Victoria suddenly saw the light and contacted a therapist landed with a bathetic thud. Jones was going for gold here, and drew on her own experiences of mental health problems to fuel her performance, but there just wasn’t enough content for a one-hour drama.

Chris was more like a prop than a three-dimensional character, so their relationship never felt believable

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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