Honestly how does Claudia Karvan do it?
She’s onto another winner with SBS’ telemovie Saved which premieres next Sunday night. So far she’s racked up quite a list of gems including Love My Way and The Secret Life of Us. Of course for this drama she isn’t a behind-the-scenes creative. That’s led by director Tony Ayres and producer Michael McMahon. And what a team they again prove to be.
If you’re jaded by sentimental melodramas, flashy crime miniseries or teen-driven soaps look no further than Saved. Here is an intelligent, contemporary and compelling Australian drama -the best on the box so far this year.
Karvan stars as Julia, a young mother who is trying to come to terms with her life after the death of her 5 week old baby from SIDS. Life doesn’t hold much meaning, until her sister-in-law invites her to accompany her to a Detention Centre where she meets Amir (Osamah Sami), a handsome Iranian detainee awaiting his fate in the government system. Their first meeting doesn’t go well. But soon Julia becomes more involved in Amir’s plight and is encouraged to become an advocate for a man in despair.
For a woman feeling no purpose, Julia throws all her passion behind Amir’s case. This puts strain on her marriage with her distant husband Peter (Andy Rodoreda), still wounded by the death of their child. But Julia will find her obsession compromises her once-solid personal life.
The three key players are ideal in this thoughtful screenplay by Belinda Chayko. Ayres affords them plenty of room to flex their acting muscles, while breathing with subtext.
One scene over a small cake beautifully captures communication differences between two strangers. Iranian custom is to decline the first offer. Julia has much to learn.
The supporting cast of Beverley Dunn, Neil Melville and Sue Jones are all solid.
Saved confidently places a topical social theme at the centre of a most personal drama, in much the same way as was achieved by John Doyle’s series Marking Time. Without ever getting bogged down in excess politics it shoots an arrow through the policies of the Howard years. It is impossible not to be drawn to the human drama of refugees here.
And watching this telemovie it is hard not to long for more adult dramas from Australian television. Saved, which will surely be on future AFI and Logie Award lists, is an affecting work. Don’t miss it.
Saved airs 8:30pm Sunday on SBS.