The Virtues is a new four-part series which reunites This Is England‘s Shane Meadows with actor Stephen Graham, here, as Joseph, a painter and decorator who has reached the end of his tether. Drink and drugs help numb the pain of life, but when his ex-partner Debbie, and 9-year-old son, Shea, are moving abroad to Australia, things can only go downhill.
In the first episode, we see him saying goodbye to his offspring, and painfully having to let go. Then comes the aftermath of the boozy night to end all boozy nights being quite a sight to behold, as he wakes up the next morning, with a belching stomach being the least of his problems.
There’s not too much I can say other than this first episode feels like Joseph’s descent into hell, and the central performance from Mr Graham is fantastic, but then he’s always good value.
The billing on Digiguide does give more info, but I’m not giving any potential spoilers. Just watch the programme 🙂
I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the series (and will update this after each one), but I wish we didn’t have to wait weekly for it. The recent Chimerica was shown in full on All4 once the first episode had been broadcast, and looking at the above poster, it inferred that the same would happen with this, but on checking the site at just after 11pm on the night of the broadcast of episode 1, it’s not on there, so we’re having to do the usual weekly-wait. 🙁
UPDATE Episode 2: In episode 2, Joseph finally arrives in Ireland. He has reasons for going over there, which I won’t divulge here (even though they’re in the trailer), but it’s the revelations, and the power of the acting with those concerned, which is what grabs you and doesn’t let go for the entire hour, and I can’t wait for the rest of the series.
UPDATE Episode 3 was also engaging, with more family matters coming to the fore, not just for Joseph (but no spoilers here!), and while this is still quite a slow burner, there’s just one more episode to go, and I could really do with another four beyond that. Perhaps just four episodes were commissioned with a view to making more?
UPDATE Episode 4: I can’t give any spoilers about the finale – and I wouldn’t do so anyway – so all I can say is that it’s intense as hell, with an incredible complementary score, and overall, this series has proved to be a fantastic contribution to the Golden Age of Television we’re currently going through.
The Virtues begins tomorrow night on Channel 4 at 9pm. The series is available to pre-order on DVD, ahead of its release on June 10th. You can watch each episode on All 4 for 30 days after transmission.
Episode 1 Score: 8/10
Episode 2 Score: 10/10
Episode 3 Score: 8/10
Episode 4 Score: 10/10
Director: Shane Meadows
Producers: Mark Herbert, Nickie Sault
Writers: Jack Thorne, Shane Meadows
Music: PJ Harvey
Joseph: Stephen Graham
Debbie: Juliet Ellis
Shea: Shea Michael-Shaw
David: Vauxhall Jermaine
Bish: Stuart Wolfenden
Landlord: Tom Davis
Pub singer: Meisha Leake
Preacher: Delroy Hall
Sam: Michael Starke
Dinah: Niamh Algar
Anna: Helen Behan
Susan: Deirdre Donnelly
Michael: Frank Laverty
Ryan: James Nelson-Joyce
Craigy: Mark O’Halloran
Janine: Niamh Cusack
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.