A Mother’s Son Review

It’s a pity Jamie didn’t think to bury his trainers as far down in the sand as his mother’s head

Welcome to the middle classes!

Hermione Norris plays Rosie (irritatingly shortened to Ro. Do people do that?) and Martin Clunes as Ben who portray a recently married couple who have moved their respective teenage children with them as they try to navigate two sets of families and all that entails in a suitably posh Suffolk coastal house of course.

We open with the last moments of the death of a teenage girl who covered in blood runs along the marshes on a darkened beach, her assailant we only see through the reflection in her eye, as she mutters her last words of “I’m sorry. ” As news travels of the young girls murder, Rosie’s son Jamie (Alexander Arnold) begins to act suspicious, she then discovers a blood stained pair of his trainers under his bed that he previously claimed had been stolen; add to that the day of the murder she came home to find someone had put the washing machine on, her suspicions are aroused (well they are teenagers, either that or you have the disappointing fate they want to run a dry cleaners as a career. Which is worse?). Could the son she raised really have murdered the girl? Rosie doesn’t feel she can confide in her husband as he’s not Jamie’s father, so she believes he doesn’t have the same love and protective nature towards her son. Instead she turns to her ex husband Jamie’s dad David, played by Paul McGann (who doesn’t quite fit the middle class model in his woolly hat and his boating shed).

There was certainly an element of daftness about this two-parter, with lines like: “My daughter’s not the sort of girl to get overly Spooked,” with two former Spooks actresses in the cast, it was hard not to chuckle in what was probably intended as a serious moment. Rosie’s detective skills wouldn’t have lasted long under the gaze of MI5’s Ros let alone Nicola Walker’s super spy Ruth. Talking of the latter, Nicola as always did wonderfully with what she was given – which was in essence very little, her eyes and empathy could out act the entire cast though. The story might have been more interesting if their roles had been switched. Come on casting directors stop giving her background roles and give her the lead. Thankfully her role in upcoming drama ‘Last Tango In Halifax’ is more substantial – but more is needed.

Although the story was enjoyable and intriguing, I couldn’t help thinking the plot being hinged on the bloodied trainers was too coincidental and in all likelihood unrealistic. Why would Jamie go to all that trouble of washing his clothes and yet keep the trainers? Why not throw them away? Or wash off the blood? WHY DID NOBODY ASK? How many times did his room get trashed and yet there were no complaints. Really? Paul McGann’s trailing skills left a lot to be desired, and how disappointing when the build up of Rob’s (Jake Davies) anxious secret turned out to be a let down – as did the finale where Jamie half heartedly threatens to kill himself before handing himself in to the police. Alexander Arnold is a talented actor and was always the stand out member of the recent series of Skins, he gives an understated yet hormonally charged performance as Jamie.

Martin Clunes played the concerned but not-quite-sure-what-to-do husband well, where as Hermione Norris‘s overly emotional reaction got irritating after a while, you felt like shouting “JUST ASK HIM AND SAVE US TWO HOURS.” Burying her head in the sand is one thing, sitting back and watching the evidence pile up and still not asking till right at the end is another. Especially when the build up doesn’t pay off. I know the story was meant to display the anguish of the thought her son could be capable of such a crime and the fallout for the step family, but no twists, turns or misunderstandings? Yes! He killed her exactly just as Rosie suspected. Well why didn’t you just tell us that at the start?!