At six episodes, Close To Me perhaps strings out its central mystery a touch too long, diluting the powerful work from Connie Nielsen and Christopher Eccleston
“I don’t feel…safe”
I was a fan of the first episode of Channel 4 drama Close To Me but in the way of these things, it has taken me six months or so to get around to finishing it (one of the problems when so many shows are releasing all their episodes upon release). And somewhat sadly, I’m not entirely sure it was worth it in the end, its intriguing premise losing a lot of its initial energy in its overlong unwinding.
Written by Angela Pell from Amanda Reynolds’ 2017 novel, we follow Jo’s recovery from a fall down the stairs which has left her with a traumatic brain injury and no memory of the last year of her life. Cosseted by a family (mostly) willing her back into good health, her recovery is complicated by the realisation that what she is being told about her seemingly perfect life doesn’t always tally with what she is starting to remember.
So far so Memento, and there are some cleverly disconcerting surprises, twists and red herrings to keep the narrative pumping along. But it needs them, as over the six episodes the story ends up being preciously thin – it’s hard not to feel the same effect could have been achieved with more impact in half the time – there’s only so much middle-aged ennui, marital turbulence and stroppy teenagers you can stomach, even in the predictably uber-stylish home.
As the central couple Jo and Rob, Connie Nielsen and Christopher Eccleston are good together (and apart) but too often forced to play the same notes. Susan Lynch and Leanne Best (and an under-used Kate O’Flynn) offer good support from the sidelines but all in all, you’re just watching a good idea dissipate over several hours as we career to a limp ending.