What we're watching on TV this week
- Credit: Netflix
Pieces of Her, streaming now on Netflix
This new thriller follows a young woman as her mother's secretive and dark past unravels following a violent attack in their home town.
We join Andy Oliver (Bella Heathcote), a newly-turned 30-year-old as she finishes up her nightshift as a police call handler. As the sun rises through an idyllic, small US town, she cycles back to the home she shares with her mother, Laura (Toni Collette).
While Laura has a good career working as a speech therapist, we learn that Andy hasn't really found her path in life and is living with her mum after having moved away from New York and the pressures of making ends meet there.
It all gets going when the pair are out for lunch and become involved in a violent attack - the point at which we start to find out more about Laura's character and the secrets she harbours. After this event, she's anxious when she realises Andy will be speaking to police, and upon her hospital discharge tells her daughter it's time for her to move out.
As we're wondering why she suddenly wants to create this seeming distance between them, we join a mystery man on the phone in San Francisco, telling his caller that there's a problem. "It's her," he says. So, we realise there's something about Laura's past that inevitably is going to emerge, and at that point we know we're in this journey for the duration.
Surely their day can't get any worse? But as Andy makes to leave, a hooded intruder breaks in and tries to kill Laura. They manage to fight him off, but Laura instructs Andy not to speak to the police and, instead, to leave, taking a burner phone (which she conveniently has to hand), visit a lockup and pick up the car that's stored there. Ultimately, Andy is told to lay low until her mum calls her.
The end of episode one leaves us both on the edge of our seats and asking several questions. Why Laura would be a target and what's happened in her past to make her one? Why does she have the phone and car arranged 'just in case'? One thing's for sure, you'll definitely want to watch as it all unfolds over all eight episodes.
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Holding, ITV Mondays 9pm and streaming on ITV Hub
Last week ITV had us on the edge of our seats with the thriller Our House, based on the novel by Louise Candlish.
And this week’s big new drama was another page to screen adaptation.
This time the channel took us to West Cork to get acquainted with the residents of the fictional village of Duneen, as another mystery began to unfold in Holding.
Based on Graham Norton’s tender and funny 2016 novel and directed by Kathy Burke, Game of Thrones star Conleth Hill heads the cast as local police officer Sergeant PJ Collins.
He's a bit lonely, his heart isn’t really in his job and he’s turned to eating deconstructed plastic cheese slice sandwiches in his squad car for comfort.
But when the body of long-lost local legend Tommy Burke is discovered, gentle PJ is called upon to solve the first serious crime of his career.
And as he unearths the insular village’s buried secrets, he also connects with the residents he’s tried to avoid.
They include vulnerable Brid Riordan (played by Derry Girls star and Great Pottery Throw Down host Siobhan McSweeney).
She had been due to marry Tommy before he disappeared – and years later she’s battling to keep a lid on her drinking habit.
Then there’s Evelyn Ross (played by Charlene McKenna of Peaky Blinders and Bloodlands) who was hopelessly in love with Tommy and has been a bit lost ever since.
Could either of them had something to do with his disappearance?
There’s a big treat as Irish acting royalty Brenda Fricker (My Left Foot) returns to the small screen, playing shy Lizzie Meany, another character who has also been battling her own demons.
Helen Behan (The Virtues) plays Evelyn’s sensible oldest sister Abigail, who brought up her two younger sisters following the deaths of their parents.
Middle sister Florence (Amy Conroy) is planning a new life in America with her partner Susan (Eleanor Tiernan), who is the head of the school where she teaches.
Village life wouldn’t be complete without a busybody – and Pauline McLynn (forever in our hearts as Father Ted’s tea-obsessed housekeeper Mrs Doyle) is on fine form as meddling local shop owner Eileen.
Her deceased husband was the local Garda before PJ, so she has very strong opinions about how he conducts his policing.
For such a serious case, PJ needs back up – cue the arrival of fast-tracked young detective Linus (Clinton Liberty) who is sent from Cork.
While he’s eager to make a name for himself, you suspect that in the coming episodes PJ and the village will start to grow on him – as it will on you too.
Inventing Anna, streaming now on Netflix
High society, high fashion, high stakes and swindling, Inventing Anna tells the story of Anna Delvey, who fooled some of New York's mega-rich into thinking she was a German heiress and socialite.
A mainly true story - Netflix happily admits it has used some artistic licence here - this show sees those in high society offering their money, homes, holidays and friendships to unwittingly help Anna live the high life she so desperately wants. It will leave you puzzled, cringing and fascinated as to how it all happens and how it all unfolds.
Played by the super-talented Julia Garner, it's a far cry from her previous role of Ruth Langmore, who we've grown to love in the Netflix drama Ozark. For this role, she successfully sheds Langmore's deep Southern drawl, trading it for a German-Russian-American-we're-not-sure-where hybrid. When she speaks, it's difficult to pin down exactly where she's from. However, this is exactly what she wants.
We join Anna in the first episode in a prison cell facing charges of grand larceny - the American term for theft of personal property with a large value, so we know it all comes crashing down at some point.
We're quickly introduced to a magazine reporter, played by Anna Chlumsky, (My Girl, Veep) who is keen to re-establish a failing career before she goes on maternity leave. She's heard about this young woman and is keen to pursue the story and find out more about what's led to these charges.
Thanks to Instagram, where Anna publicly played out her glamorous lifestyle, Vivian is able to piece together a list of people who knew her. Each gives their own account of this mystery girl and their experiences are shared in a series of flashbacks. We're introduced to lifestyles of the social elite, houses in the Hamptons, yachts in Ibiza and the world of high fashion. We start to see how Anna has refined her persona to seamlessly fit in.
Anna and Vivian's prison meetings begin with a sob story, but we are given glimpses of Anna's materialistic nature thanks to the odd comment about the clothes her interviewer is wearing, her weight ("Vivian, are you pregnant or so very, very fat?"), and why she hasn't come to see Anna via the usual media route, which would include better treatment ("VIP is always better.")
The introductory episode all hangs on whether Anna will take a plea deal, admit guilt and serve a few years in prison, in which case the story goes away too, or whether she will have her day in court - the latter meaning Vivian can cover the story.
Not wanting to be known as a 'dumb socialite', Anna opts for her day in court and her moment of fame. This news reassuring to viewers, who now know we'll join Anna in her glamorous journey and, resisting the urge to Google, find out how it all unravels.
As to when and how this happens, we'll just have to watch over the next eight episodes.