The 7.39 review

The morning train is about to get busier

7.39

(C) Carnival Films / Giles Keyte

From the writer of One Day, David Nicholls, brings us a modern-day brief encounter type love-story based around the 7.39 morning train. A friendship predictably soon turns into a one-night stand that then escalates into a full-blown affair. With both parties in a serious relationship, what could possibly go wrong?

Carl and Sally are both commuters on the 7.39 train into London. Karl an old hand a feeling his life slip away in the lonely drudgery of the commute is fed up with the dread he feels every morning of his predictable existence. That is until he meets Sally played by Olivier award-winning Sheridan Smith.

After shouting at Sally for taking his seat, guiltily he apologies the following day, and before you can say ‘tickets please’ their new-found friendship develops into an affair. In normal circumstances it would illicit a sweet warm glow. However, Carl is married to Maggie (the brilliant Bafta winning Olivia Colman) who he has two teenage children with. The relationship is happy but has developed into like most long-time marriages into a shared monotony. Sally on the other hand is young and vibrant who is engaged to be married to fitness-mad personal trainer, Ryan who loves Sally quite literally to distraction. He has their whole life planned, with a house, marriage and kids. He literally pounces on her every chance he gets.

Of course like most extra-marital affairs they both believe they can control themselves and their affair will never be found out – and as always the affair is discovered, which let’s be honest is what we’ve all been waiting for. But that also lends to the first episode feeling slow and predictable; the second is much improved – mainly because what everyone is waiting for is the explosion and hurt when their partners find out. Olivia Colman as always manages to triumphantly steal the scenes. Her comments of fact, hurt and fury are a highlight and emotional as her humour despite the tragedy of it all, never fails to make you laugh. “I only came to switch off the life support, seen as though your ok I’ll go”, she tells him after he’s been beat up by Sally’s fiancé.

7.39

Sheridan Smith also gives an astounding performance. My only quibble is David Morrissey’s character Carl, who I found tedious and whingy throughout. He’s played many a dark brooding character but although he claimed to love his wife and children, he seemed less bothered about everyone’s feelings than Sally was, which made me dislike him more. Sally appeared sincerely sympathetic and upset when she saw Maggie watching her and Carl. It didn’t make their actions any better but made her seem affected by the hurt she’d caused.

The two-parter is described as a grown up drama and in a way it is; affairs do happen, relationships break up, people get hurt and then get back together. We may not like it, (Maggie was too good for Carl and should have left him out in the cold) but it’s true to life for some. Talking of Olivia Colman what a waste of her talent. What’s the point of having a brilliant cast if all they do is sit on the sidelines?

It’s a good drama, but not a great drama. It was too predictable with stereotypical characters and very little in the way of love or passion. The two years later segment I found was too rushed, leading it to appear that everything’s returned to normal, the broken trust repaired, when in reality that chink in the armour will always remain. But it was nice to see Sally and Carl had moved on enough to smile and wave and be happy for the other.  For Carl and Sally, cake and eating it sums it up really.