The Child in Time is a one-off drama based on Ian McEwan‘s novel, presenting a Madeleine McCann-type situation beginning with Stephen Lewis (Benedict Cumberbatch), in a supermarket, turning his attention from four-year-old daughter Kate away for a second, leaving him completely bereft as he desperately searches for her. She was there one minute, and then gone the next. Where’d she run off to? Or was she taken?
Over the course of time, at one point, he tells his wife, Julie (Kelly Macdonald), that he’s going to go out looking for her, “I’m trying to find her”, to which comes the reply from Julie, “Well, you lost her(!)”, a jibe from which she quickly backtracks. As the years went by, like a number of couple who lose a child, they split up – in this case, as Julie just can’t live in their apartment any more, as well as the fact that the authorities are no longer actively searching for Kate.
On the one hand, it’s heart-wrenching at times when they think they can see her, but on the other, some of the dialogue is quite stilted and, at those times, you’re left allowing the two great leads to pull it through, rather than fully engaging with the content.
This is mostly Mr Cumberbatch’s film and his character writes children’s books. Alongside him is his best friend, Charles (Stephen Campbell Moore, also in next Sunday’s new drama, The Last Post), who’s not only his publisher, but also works for the Prime Minister. Personally, I couldn’t really get a handle on his character as he just seemed to quit his government job and then go off the rails as part of a mental breakdown. He looks like the kind of tertiary character who was more filled out in the book, but was cut down for TV. I’ve not read the book (or any books, since I left school) so always rely on TV and films to get the story across.
It also feels like the ‘time’ aspect, in the title, is shoehorned into this drama.
Overall, Benedict Cumberbatch continues to prove his worth, and it’s great to see him still acting in British drama when he could walk into any Hollywood film ad infinitum, while there’s good support from Kelly McDonald.
As an aside, I’ll add how I love that the characters in TV are in awe of someone like the Prime Minister, whereas in reality, us proles often just think they’re considerably less than ‘all that’.
The Child In Time continues isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD. If you missed it, you can watch it on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after transmission.
Director: Julian Farino
Producer: Grainne Marmion
Screenplay: Stephen Butchard (based on the novel by Ian McEwan)
Music: Adrian Johnston
Stephen Lewis: Benedict Cumberbatch
Julie: Kelly Macdonald
Charles: Stephen Campbell Moore
Home Secretary: John Hopkins
Thelma: Saskia Reeves
Rachel Murray: Anna Madeley
Joanna Buckley: Lucy Liemann
Stephen’s Father: Richard Durden
Stephen’s Mother: Geraldine Alexander
Prime Minister: Elliot Levey
School Girl: Eloise Henwood
Mrs. Matterson: Karen Bryson
Estate Agent: Gerard Monaco
Greg Ellis: Laurence Spellman
Lydia Webb: Franc Ashman
Kate: Beatrice White
Taxi Driver: Tony Walker
School Girl: Lindy Barrett
Nurse: Doreene Blackstock
Choir Boy: Benjamin Branchett
Ruth Lyle: Chase Collard
Mrs. Forrester: Gehane Strehler
Male Neighbour: Jim Creighton
Stephen’s Younger Mum: Natasha Brown
Policewoman: Andrea Hall
Shop Assistant: Rosa-Marie Lewis
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.