Before We Die is a new Channel 4 drama, starring Lesley Sharp (Three Girls), based on the 2017 Swedish drama of the same name, which I haven’t seen, so all of this is new to me.
Note that as I’m posting this review after the episode has been broadcast, I will talk about some of the details, so if you want to watch it cold, do so first before coming back here.
Ms Sharp plays cop Hannah Laing, whose grumpy son, Christian (Patrick Gibson – Their Finest), is caught selling drugs at a party, and she feels at a loss for not been able to do anything about stopping him going into chokey for a while.
Two years later, he’s out, and she’s in bed with Sean (Bill Ward), but soon after, he’s no longer taking her calls, his blue Volvo is nowhere to be seen, and all she knows is that Sean has a contact called Izzy, but was he on his way to meet her? And what’s with the phone she’s found?
Still, at least after jail, Christian has found gainful employment, albeit working for a well-connected family, but since he was looking to feed some info back to one particular character as a sort-of insider, the infiltration aspect felt like the last series of Marcella. Okay, I know the original Before We Die came first, but I hope Marcella didn’t just copy it wholesale.
Before We Die also jumps about in time a bit. After going two years later, it goes back two months earlier, for example. I was hoping this doesn’t behave like The Serpent where I needed an abacus to keep track of what date we were on, but thankfully, it did calm down soon after.
Overall, this opener came together more in the second half, but it did have quite a slow start. I’ll see how things go with more episodes. I’m not wholly sold on it, though, since it feels a bit odd with applying Nordic Noir-style filming techniques with a British cast.
One thing I will comment on which is revealed later in the episode, but which I’ll hide behind a spoiler header…
Maybe this sort of drama can only seem halfway plausible when it’s performed by a Nordic Noir cast?
UPDATE Epsiode 2: Well, apart from the inevitable mum-meets-son scene that was going to come sooner or later, the rest of us just continued to behave like they weren’t acting normally. In fact, no-one seemed to act at all! And I was bored out of my tree.
1 point for the Grand Theft Auto joke, though.
Before We Die continues on Channel 4 next Wednesday at 9pm, it will run for six episodes, but the entire series is now on All 4.
It is not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Check out the trailer below:
Watch the official trailer for #BeforeWeDie now, coming to Channel 4 on the 26th May at 9pm.
— Before We Die (@BeforeWeDie4) May 13, 2021
Episode 1 Score: 5/10
Episode 2 Score: 1/10
Director: Jan Matthys
Producers: Dimitri Verbeeck, Robin Kerremans
Writer: Matt Baker
Music: Jeroen Swinnen
Hannah Laing: Lesley Sharp
Christian Radic: Patrick Gibson
Billy Murdoch: Vincent Regan
Dubravka Mimica: Kazia Pelka
Sean Hardacre: Bill Ward
Tina Carter: Rebecca Scroggs
Izzy: Meike Hannah
Rachel: Tess Bryant
Marcus: John O’Connor
Fran: Nisha Nayar
Darius: Jonathan Sawdon
Samantha Radic: Trine Thielen
Nick Radic: David Annen
Davor Mimica: Toni Gojanovic
Henchman: Gianluca Nobile
Bianca Mimica: Issy Knopfler
Stefan Vargic: Petar Cvirn
Pavle: Rino Sokol
Jovan: Tijmen Govaerts
Zvonomir: Ryszard Turbiasz
Farmer: Simon Armstrong
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.