Character-driven Irish noir drama Grace Harte is must-see Irish TV, and it’s about to have its stateside premiere.
Grace Harte follows the story of a woman whose relationships with two men lead to tragedy. Kate Nic Chonaonaigh (Corp + Anam) stars as 40-something Grace, who manages an old, rundown hotel on the west coast of Ireland with her husband, Leo (Dara Devaney, Above Suspicion), and his mother. The Óstán Harte has seen better days and gotten better online reviews; now the place feels depressing and devoid of life. Like, from Grace’s point of view, her and Leo’s passionless marriage.
Soon after the couple start preparing to close the hotel for the winter, Leo’s ma dies, and Grace feels it’s time to do what she and Leo have been talking about for years. That is, renovating the hotel — hoping that updating the place will also reinvigorate their marriage. Only the change-averse Leo is of a different mind about both. And when the argument gets heated, a still-collected Leo delivers a put-down of Grace that is so fierce, she flees — directly to the beach and into the arms and camper van bed of Danny (Eoin O’Dubhghaill, Monster), a good-looking young newcomer to the area who has set up a surfing school on the beach near the hotel. She got to know him after doing a sponsorship deal for his surf boards, and her blind trust in him has grown to the point of confiding some of her innermost thoughts and wishes to him. And Danny, a chancer whom certain locals pejoratively call “the man from Atlantis,” is happy to oblige. As in, get rid of Leo. Permanently.
Too bad Danny doesn’t think about Sir Walter Scott’s poem “Marmion,” specifically the part that goes “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,” before he takes a lives-changing action. Because in its aftermath are drastic consequences of the unintended and unexpected and wholly unwanted kind.
I couldn’t help but think of a couple of classic films by two-time Academy Awards®-winning director David Lean while watching Grace Harte: Great Expectations and Ryan’s Daughter — the former because of series director Charlie McCarthy’s black-and-white cinematography (especially of the sea), the latter because of the show’s storyline. Together with the acting, they create a tragic tale that is worthy of your time.
The black and white and varying shades of gray in between add both visual drama and a sense of bleakness to the story, and the acting by the expressive Kate Nic Chonaonaigh is superb. Props also to writer Antoine O. Flatharta (An Crisis) for such an engaging drama.
The three-part limited series features Bríd Ní Neachtain (Dominion Creek), Eoin Geoghegan (Call the Midwife), Peadar Cox (Jack Taylor), Elise Brennan (Monster), Eoin Mac Diarmada (Deception), and Norma Sheahan (Bridget & Eamon).
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