After two ripping seasons of The Missing I must confess to being on board for any new drama that has Harry & Jack Williams as writers.
The latest, Liar, has been attracting considerable attention in the UK and it’s not hard to see why.
Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey) plays teacher Laura Nielson who has recently split with boyfriend Tom (Warren Brown). But a school drop-off meeting with recently widowed surgeon Andrew (Ioan Gruffudd) changes all that when she agrees to a dinner date.
From this juncture Liar quickly detours into a “He Said / She Said” series of events designed to keep the audience guessing. Through flashbacks and present-time repercussions, questions of consent, date-rape, and secrets unravel.
Outwardly, surgeon Andrew seems a charmer, and Laura a perfectly-pleasant catch. So just what did go down that night after he walked her home? Was his text the next morning, “What an amazing night x” genuine, or does it conceal something more sinister?
Whilst this doesn’t quite subscribe to Japan’s classic Rashomon, in which different perspectives dramatise a singular incident, the weight of sympathy here lays with Laura. As she struggles to detail the ordeal to her sister Katy (Zoe Tapper), she is urged to report her rape to police.
Scenes at a Rape Assault Centre are so traumatic and humiliating, they could be from a documentary.
“I will tell the police what happened and then I don’t want to talk about it anymore,” Laura insists.
But for Andrew, who has a spring in his step from a ‘perfect’ date night, police questioning will turn his world upside down.
Other sub-plots will add further layers to various back stories which will no doubt deepen across the 6 episodes.
Froggatt extends her acting range from her fine performance in Downton Abbey (it’s a surprise she takes on another with the grim subject of rape), powering through the equivalent of a dramatic hand-grenade. Gruffudd is suitably charming as to cast audience doubts about his sincerity, without ever feeling like he is truly duplicitous.
The script juggles its puzzle pieces, complemented by hand-held cameras where the drama is most fragile. And there is a closing scene that could not be more timely given recent news headlines.
The series has already been renewed for a second season which, given the Williams brothers’ work in the past, may mean not everything is tied up neatly by its conclusion. It doesn’t matter. There’s more than enough here to make it worth your while.
Liar premieres 8:45pm Monday on Seven.