MThis month we take a look at streaming releases that delve into the human condition – tender portrayals of contemporary life, grief, loss and growing up under dramatic circumstances.
After Life S1 (Netflix)
Ricky Gervais returns with his first original series since the less-than-memorable Derek, writing, directing and starring in this six-part series about bereavement. He plays Tony, a local newspaper reporter close to suicide after the premature death of his wife, Lisa. His only route to survival is adopting a policy whereby he says whatever he wants whenever he wants. Among the familiar Gervais collaborators on board is Extras’ Ashley Jensen, who plays the nurse to Tony’s dementia-stricken father (David Bradley). Fans of Gervais’ maudlin, moody comedy should tune in.
The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind(Netflix)
British-Nigerian actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, famed for his Oscar-nominated lead in 12 Years A Slave, goes behind the camera for the first time with this heartfelt adaptation of the book by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. This Malawi-set drama, set at the time of the devastating famine of 2002, tells of how the then 14 year-old Kamkwamba (played by newcomer Maxwell Simba) literally took junkyard scrap to create a windmill to bring life-saving electricity to his village. Ejiofor, who co-stars as William’s father, directs with real tender assurance.
The Widow S1(Amazon Prime)
Kate Beckinsale is the latest A-List movie star to join the streaming TV revolution, with this eight-episode thriller written by Harry and Jack Williams, the creators of The Missing. She plays Georgia Wells, a British woman who refuses to believe her husband died in a plane crash over the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Travelling to the country on a dangerous, foolhardy mission, she must fight against the odds – a stranger in a strange (and hostile) land. Also featuring Charles Dance and Alex Kingston, it’s a twist-heavy road that viewers will be expected to travel.
Hanna S1(Amazon Prime)
Joe Wright’s 2011 film starred Saoirse Ronan as a teenage assassin trained by her father and on the run from the CIA. In other words, all very ripe for a TV spin-off. Created and written by David Farr, who brought us the celebrated drama The Night Manager, this is basically a reboot of the film, drawing on the same high concept. Esme Creed-Miles – daughter to actress Samantha Morton – stars as Hanna, who is under threat from an off-book CIA agent. Also joining the cast are the erstwhile co-stars of The Killing, Joel Kinnaman and Mirelle Enos.
Lead Image: Kate Beckinsale in The Widow.