Sunday, February 06, 2022

Angela Black, on Spectrum

In movies and TV, conventional legal divorce would often be so much easier, especially if you have as much money as Angela Meyer’s abusive husband Olivier. She will be using her maiden-name soon, for reasons we can certainly understand. He wants to get rid of her and keep custody of their boring children, but she proves to be more resilient than he expects in Harry & Jack Williams’ Angela Black, which premieres tomorrow on Spectrum.

On paper, the Meyers’ marriage looks happy, but he often beats her in private, for the smallest grievances. At least he is frequently away on business. After the latest thrashing, she finds herself alone at a bar on Halloween, where she is approached by a strange man, Ed Harrison, who seems strangely interested in her. At their next not-so-coincidental meeting, he claims to be a fixer, who has done questionable work for her husband. He warns her Olivier has some ominous plans for her, but he is here to help her (you know, just like the government).

The next three episodes are a smorgasbord of violent outbursts, gaslighting, snooping, and protective services acting stupid. There are also some clever thriller elements, but for seventy-five percent of the series, the tone is closer to
Sleeping with the Enemy than Hitchcock. However, the concluding sixth episode either redeems the preceding melodrama or elevates it, depending on your tastes and perspective. There is even a bit of a hat-tip to Patricia Highsmith that pays off handsomely.

Frankly, the Williamses so thoroughly reduce Meyer/Black to helpless victim, it would be hard to believe she could finally make an effort to turn the tables, were it not for Joanne Froggatt’s convincing efforts to sell it. She is very good, especially down the stretch, but it is Samuel Adewunmi who is compulsively watchable as the cipher-like Harrison. Michiel Huisman (the dead guy in
The Flight Attendant) is also spectacularly sinister as the abusive Meyer, but all his menacing glaring and seething creates some credibility problems for all the stunningly unintuitive minor supporting characters who get played by him.

Still, viewers who stay with
Angela Black will be amazed how neatly the Williamses tie together all their plot strands in the final fifteen minutes. Helmed entirely by Craig Viveiros, the show drags a bit in the middle episodes, but the closer is a really suspenseful ride. Recommended for fans of domestic thrillers, who are willing to go into it for the long haul, Angela Black starts streaming tomorrow (2/7), as a Spectrum original.