ACCUSED (BBC) “Helen’s Story” Review


ACCUSED “Helen’s Story” Episode 3 – HELEN’S STORY wont stir up as much controversy or grab as many headlines as last week’s story but it is another triumph for writer Jimmy McGovern who delivers a subtle portrayal of the tragedy of a parent surviving their child and the void of grief left in his place.

This week’s Accused revolves around a mild mannered primary school teacher following the death of her 18-year-old son crushed to death while working at a factory. Ruled an ‘accidental death’ Helen’s pleas for answers fall on deaf ears as she is dismissed by Police. Desperation drives Helen to blow up the factory and standing before a jury she pleads for the ‘justice’ of their mercy.

What I think the Accused does particularly well is portray the numbness of grief felt after the passing of a loved one. Juliet Stevenson is sublime as the grieving mother robbed of a life with her son who finds solace in the search for answers. Hiding behind the curtain as the Police car approaches willing it to be next door’s bell they ring was wonderfully played. A mother’s love still her only reason for being as she desperately searches for the truth.

I think the standout performance of the Accused however was the father played by Peter Capaldi. Helen has a focus where as he struggles to comprehend a life lost. The scene where he breaks down while ironing his shirt was heart wrenching. The frustration and helplessness coupled with the increasing detachment from his wife builds to the moment his grief consumes him. It reminded me in parts of Sean Penn in Mystic River a film that deals with a father’s loss of his daughter. The desolation in the eyes deadened with the weight of grief.

It was not without its faults though I felt. Just a small gripe but I think that Police force could do with going on a ‘How to Break Bad News’ workshop because rocking up at the house of someone whose only son had just been crushed under a few hundred pallets to just give a reference number and be on their way seemed a bit harsh.

The ending did make for a striking shot of the two parents crying in an embrace but how he got pass Court security dressed in a full-on clown get-up is beyond me. Accused strength lay in it’s realism so it’s a little hard to believe that a crime of blowing a factory sky high would return a verdict of ‘not guilty’. Good job there weren’t any staff on or there could have been a spin off for all the back stories of the night security guards she’d burnt to a crisp.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Helen’s Story. Despite its slightly convenient ending it was a powerful, quality piece of drama. Andy Serkis is the lead in next week’s episode so I’m sure the bar will be raise once more.

What did you think of this week’s Accused “Helen’s Story”? Looking forward to seeing Andy ‘Gollum’ Serkis on the small screen next episode?? Let me know in the comment box below!!

For more information about Accused, go to the official website