It is a tale far too familiar: a child goes missing and the parents become the prime suspects. We’ve seen it in reality with cases like JonBenet Ramsey and in fiction like Mary Higgins Clark’s Where are the Children. Sadly, many of these cases turn out to be much more complex than imagined, so it is no surprise that the crime fiction they inspire also morphs into something more devious. Take for example Helen Fitzgerald’s The Cry, recently modified into a limited series for television.
The Cry is a four-episode production and proves to be one of the best domestic suspense adaptations of recent years. It is impressively-filmed with clever, arty scene transitions; well-acted; and structurally intricate. It is hard to imagine a fan of this genre being disappointed in this re-telling of The Cry.
To avoid spoilers, here is just the basics of the plot. Despite the fact that she is at least partially responsible for the break-up of his marriage to Alexandra, Joanna has recently had a son with Alistair. When a custody battle for his daughter requires them to travel to Australia, they have no idea that it will be the beginning of a living nightmare. Not long after arriving, their son goes missing and everyone in their immediate circle – including themselves – become prime suspects.
The Cry unfolds with flashbacks, flash-forwards, and multiple timelines, keeping viewers on their toes. It is very impressive how the production manages to keep the element of surprise alive for as long as it does. Devotees of domestic suspense may ferret out a few of the developments, but there are still twists in store. Even up to the final moments of the fourth episode there are truths to be exposed.
In a star-making turn, Jenna Coleman brings Joanna to life with a subtle but believable performance – quite the challenge given the convoluted path of her narrative. The rest of the cast is equally as strong throughout. There is much to be discussed at the conclusion of this series, so get your friends to watch as well.
This is a BBC One production also available on Sundance Now and Amazon.