I know that it’s easy to think that the only things Australia has brought for us is Fosters beer, Kylie Minogue and the questionable Home and Away, but occasionally, those Aussies can deliver something that is top notch.
In fact, the subtly hidden in the depths of Channel 5 gritty prison drama, Wentworth, goes beyond top-notch; it’s an absolute masterpiece, with sharp writing, moving storytelling and some of the best dramatic performing I have ever seen.
I will try to avoid spoilers as best I can in this post but the series closed in a similar grim fashion to the way it opened, with an adversary of the women of Wentworth impaled with a sharp implement and the ten episodes of drama in between was just as gripping.
Based to a heavy degree on the 80’s cult classic, Prisoner Cell Block H, Wentworth replaces the shaky sets and hammy acting with a modern reimagining of the tough life in a ruthless women’s prison and it doesn’t pull any punches.
The three leading ladies, Bea, Jacs and Frankie, are hardened incarcerated criminals, vying for survival and the coveted spot of ‘top dog’ in a corrupt system. The series follows their struggles behind bars as well as integrating the stories of a stellar support cast so that the episodes run as an ensemble performance.
Crucially, the painful journey of Bea from sheepish new prisoner to vengeful killer over ten episodes is entirely believable and the performance of actress Danielle Cormack in the role, is sensational. Particularly heartwrenching was her raw portrayal of a grieving mother towards the end of the series which ranks as one of the most moving examples of acting I have seen.
Nicole de Silva plays the series’ arguably most complex character, Frankie Doyle, whom, in a much similar mould to counterpart Yvonne Atkins from UK drama Bad Girls, is the best friend of the women…until she becomes their enemy. Tough, smart, cocky but deeply insecure and troubled, Frankie was set as a fan favourite from her opening scene and Nicole’s portrayal is nailed spot on to ensure her character is memorable long after the series ends.
Finally, the villain of the piece, Jacs is a measured psychotic who yearns for control through fear and vengeance and is one of modern television’s most menacing characters in a very long time. There could not have been a single audience member who was not drawn in and shouting at the television by Kris McQuade’s brutal performance as the woman who most needed a violent comeuppance.
There is a fairly large cast of officers and inmates who glue together the show, alongside a mix of gritty and emotional plotlines. If you are unfortunate enough not to have come across this masterpiece yet, the DVD is due to be released and a second series has already been commissioned for next year.
Buy it…it’s Went-worth it. See what I did there….
Posted By Our Man In The North