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One Night review – Jodie Whittaker absolutely soars in this mystery drama


Who possesses a narrative? Is there a definitive reality for anything? Can we collectively prioritize one over the others? These are significant inquiries in an era of constantly changing social, political, and cultural beliefs, where social media influencers, activists, and ordinary individuals are offering their opinions – regardless of how informed or uninformed they may be. We are currently experiencing a climate of both harmless and harmful falsehoods circulating the globe at a rapid pace, while artificial intelligence waits to absorb the remaining shreds of human honesty.

One Night, a six-part Australian mystery drama created and written by Emily Ballou (The Slap) and directed by Catherine Millar (The Secrets She Keeps) and Lisa Matthews, has them at its heart. Simone (Nicole da Silva) has written a book, but has concealed from everyone except her agent (always tell your agent everything) how much of it is based on traumatic events in her teenage years. When the book comes out – published anonymously, which only helps drive sales – all hell slowly but surely breaks loose.

In the book, her two closest friends from that period are featured. One is Hat (played by Yael Stone), who is now a lawyer and still living in their hometown. Simone has recently returned to take care of her father as his dementia worsens. The other friend is Tess (played by Jodie Whittaker), who was recently seen in Time and now has another opportunity to showcase her talents instead of just being known for her role in Doctor Who. Tess returns with her wife Vicki (played by Kat Stewart) after living in England for almost twenty years. She discovers that the plot of the best-selling book is strangely similar to her own story, one that she had tried to leave behind when she moved to England.

The source of Tess’s teenage trauma is made clear through flashbacks and dreams experienced by both her and Simone. This may not come as a surprise to those who have watched television dramas in recent years or spoken to women in real life. However, what is truly captivating is the gradual portrayal of how the traumatic event has affected their friendship over the years. In the opening episodes, Whittaker and Da Silva deliver flawless performances in capturing the tough exterior and vulnerability that have developed as a result of the tragic event. Guilt, fear, anger, resentment, and grief have all taken their toll on the two friends in different ways, further complicated by the possibility that it may have also ruined a potential romance between them. Simone has turned to drinking to cope and becomes explosively angry when she inevitably crosses paths with those responsible for the night that changed their lives 17 years ago in their small coastal town. On the other hand, Tess has channeled her energy into achieving personal and professional success, presenting a facade of control over her life. However, like most emotional defenses, it proves fragile when faced with returning home.

After the initial episodes, One Night loses its personal touch and becomes more generic due to the inclusion of familiar clichés. The man who is revealed to be the culprit is released from prison early and returns to his powerful crime family without remorse. Vicki and Tess’s rebellious daughter gets involved with his nephew, causing anger and fear for her safety. At the same time, Simone and her father are being targeted by an unknown entity, causing chaos at their secluded property. Tess’s behavior also becomes more puzzling, adding another layer of mystery to the story.

The impact is reminiscent of Australia’s “Big Little Lies,” with a focus on female characters in wealthy settings adorned in luxurious attire and residing in lavish homes. Each intense moment takes place against stunning backdrops, revealing both a striking exterior and hidden collective and personal secrets. Similar to “Big Little Lies,” the show remains faithful to its characters and plot, presenting substance and flair while also posing significant inquiries – even if it does not delve too deeply for the solutions.

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Source: theguardian.com