The opening shot of Black Mirror II begins with a shot of a petrol station on a stormy pitch black night. That shot alone is enough to raise my excitement all over again for the latest series of underrated Television gold.
Its been a lengthy two year hiatus since the last Black Mirror miniseries aired on our TV screens, but its return has been long awaited by fans as well as Channel 4, who have awarded the return with a very creative marketing campaign. The marketing in general, captures the same eerie soft techo atmosphere that Brooker assembled so perfectly in his first series. And with that hype, it’s enough to lure in additional viewers as well as retain the original viewers from previously.
The first mini-movie of this series is titled “Be Right Back”, written by Charlie Brooker and starring Captain America star Hayley Atwell. Atwell plays the character of Martha, whose entire life is shattered following the death of her partner Ash (Domhnall Gleeson) in a road accident. During the funeral, she is introduced to a new app that keeps people in touch with the deceased. While adamant at first, Martha is slowly drawn to this new discovery, which begins to transform her entire life once again.
The first thing to say about Black Mirror is that its ideas alone are enough to lure me in. The idea of technology running amok and destroying human society slowly but surely, is going to attract some form of audience, whether its big or small. Be Right Back tackles themes and ideas such as obsession, grief, isolation and death, and does so in a bleak and bizarre manner that only Brooker could master so well. I adore his writing due to the fact that he has a rather grim and unique mind – which no other writer has right now – which presents a very unpleasant and bleak style of storytelling, which manages to gain a sizeable amount of viewers each time its displayed in a new frightening way. Hayley Atwell’s performance is very strong and her character carries the story from beginning to end. We see a character that starts off with pretty much everything: the perfect boyfriend; a new home; and a job that she enjoys and gives her creative freedom. When her boyfriend dies, everything falls apart and she struggles to move on as would most people who lose a loved one. But then, events take a surreal turn when Atwell’s character discovers the app. With this discovery, her performance transforms rapidly and she struggles to cope with a new reality that she must keep locked away from the rest of society. Ash – played by Domhnall Gleeson – is also very good, and is key to the story’s development, despite only being featured very little. You have some good supporting performances also, but most of the attention lies on Atwell to carry the drama.
The Cinematography is perfect for the mood of the writing as is the sound design and editing. These elements add to the cold lonely world that Martha is slowly but unknowingly devising around her. The Directing is also well executed and its material like this that ensures newcomer Owen Harris many strong opportunities in the future. If there were any criticisms about this story, it would be that it wasn’t as exciting or maybe even disturbing than the first story of series one “The National Anthem”. But none the less, its still terrific television and will no doubt create buzz online as well as discussions at work the next day.
Black Mirror has returned strong, and is set to maintain its following over the weeks and slowly increase Brooker’s status as one of the most underrated talents working in British Television today.
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