Let's talk: Finding Alice
(contains small spoilers)
Its just been commissioned for season 2 and provided that rare form of comedy-drama on our screens every Sunday night. Finding Alice tells the story of Alice Dillon who, after finally moving into an architectural masterpiece of a house with her husband, Harry and daughter, Charlotte, is struck with tragedy as Harry falls down the bannister-less stairs to his death.
The shock of his loss sees a disoriented Alice muddle her way through the admin of losing a loved one, including attempting to keep the house from her in-laws, persuading the council to bury Harry in the garden and gaining access to her husband's sperm in order to have another child. Quite a series of events right?
Keeley Hawes can do no wrong in my eyes. She's been dominating the small screen for over 20 years, her recent performances in It's A Sin and Bodyguard presenting her as the go-to actor for drama. Her comedic skills perhaps are a little undiscovered, but they shine through in this series. Her expressions of frustration provide laugh out loud moments, in particular her interactions with the overly keen (quite annoying) estate agent who wants to sell the house on behalf of Harry's parents. She masterfully balances the humour alongside the obvious devastation of her loss. Alice's response to grief is erratic and the storyline does amplify the character's self destruction, but she's never not believable. Her moments of isolation at night show the true sorrow, providing a contrast to the almost hyperactive Alice we see in the day. It's a beautifully nuanced performance, she's sometimes difficult to like but always easy to empathise with.
The series features a starry supporting cast of British icons and newcomers. Queen Joanna Lumley stars as Alice's spiky and pragmatic Mother and Nigel Havers as her well-meaning, if slightly hopeless Father. Isabella Pappas gives a wonderfully understated portrayal of Alice's daughter Charlotte, showing her inward, teenage way of dealing grief compared to her Mother. A dysfunctional family they may be, but their quirky connections and personalities only add to the series' charisma.
The "house that Harry built" almost takes on the character of it's deceased designer. It becomes torn apart, fought over, modified, a guest house for feuding family members and a site for the funeral and burial. As the series starts with the moving in, it never really feels like a home, more a piece of art left by the enigmatic builder. The voice-activated systems of the curtains opening and light switches, adds to its personification, but its hollow shell houses the grief of its occupants and it's minimalist stairs are deemed responsible for Harry's death.
There's a chaotic charm to this show, even though it sometimes feels as if the plot strands are multiplying by the second. With surprise sperm, a Grand Designs house war and secret love children popping up, the story borders on being slightly far-fetched even for soap opera plot lines. The suburban setting does little to offset the mania, but perhaps that's the sole intention of the show. To show the disorder of grief and its ability to derail everyday life, as it surges wilfully on.
The series finale left its audience with a myriad of unanswered questions and some critics have called it a somewhat flat ending to show fizzing with energy. It poses a great potential of possible storylines for season 2. Will Alice pursue with the artificial insemination? What will happen to the building project with Tanvi? Will more children appear from Harry's donation to the sperm bank 10 years ago? It makes an intriguing prospect for 2022.
Warm, moving and filled with laugh out loud moments, it's not always an easy watch but the brilliant cast make it a very watchable show.
Finding Alice is available to watch on the ITV Hub.