I almost missed The Fall. The temptation of all those high budget US dramas on Netflix might make you think a 6 episode run of a BBC-commissioned crime drama was a little old-fashioned. You might think an Irish detective story to be old hat. You would be wrong. It’s incredible.
The Fall follows Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), a Belfast serial killer and Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), the police officer trying to catch him. It’s a dark thrill that is utterly absorbing. We see Spector pick, stalk and kill his victims while Gibson and her team desperately scramble to identify the murderer. Dornan is totally convincing as the killer and portrays Spector with remarkable restraint. There are no wild displays of rage that would cheapen the character but a brooding violent intensity that is portrayed with a subtle change of tone or expression. Handsome and intelligent, it’s easy to feel yourself liking the empathic killer and the excitement of seeing him stalk through an empty house is dangerously infectious.
DCI Gibson is a veteran police officer, resilient and smart who enjoys a glass of red and a no-strings screw, a character who a few years ago would almost certainly be male. Anderson plays her so perfectly that she should be in text books about how to play a tough female lead without resorting to type. She is strong and practical without being bitchy or callous. It’s clear that when characters find her looks and strength distracting it’s definitely their shortcoming.
If all this talk of gender roles sounds a bit much then don’t worry. It’s just a theme running under what is a gripping series. Filmed in dark colours and with a creepy soundtrack, the end of each episode is almost like a relief but it’s one that ends quickly before pulling you right back in. It’s not gory or sensational but a slow burn that is deliberate and compelling. It kind of reminds me of that old series Cracker from the nineties but made in the style of Nordic dramas like The Killing or The Bridge. Ultimately The Fall is an intense character study by two fantastic actors. Season 1 and 2 are available on Amazon Video (included as part of Prime) and I would firmly recommend it.