Five Days (2007)

“They just got lost coming home.”

Five Days is a gripping BBC/HBO miniseries that covers five days of a police investigation for a missing woman. This superb, well-acted drama is something you can really get sink into. When the film begins, attractive housewife and mother Leanne Wellings (Christine Tremarco) leaves with her youngest two children to complete some errands. After adopting a dog from the local animal shelter, Leanne stops to buy some flowers from a roadside stand. With her two young children watching from the car, Leanne simply… disappears….

Five Days is by no means just a standard mystery. Instead this lengthy miniseries, with its emphasis on interpersonal relationships, takes the time to examine the fallout of Leanne’s disappearance on her family. Grief, stress and guilt tear the family apart, and long held grievances that were buried now simmer and rise to the surface–sometimes with explosive results. Five Days examines the mystery from every imaginable point of view–the community, the media frenzy, the police, and the grieving family and friends. And while there is suspense by the gallon, it’s the emotional fallout from this tragedy that’s so riveting.

Leanne’s personal trainer husband, Matt (David Oyelowo) struggles to maintain some sort of composure, but he’s quite aware that he’s a prime suspect. As is the case with most marriages, Matt and Leanne’s relationship wasn’t perfect, and now that she’s missing the problems are scrutinized. They were plagued with financial problems, and there are rumours of infidelity. Leanne’s parents instead of turning to each other for support feud over a number of issues, and Leanne’s bratty teenage daughter Tanya (Lucinda Dryzek) from an early marriage turns on everyone within spitting distance. Meanwhile Sarah (Sarah Smart) a lonely young woman with issues of her own wheedles her way into Matt’s household through her relationship with one of his children. Her presence acts as a catalyst for many emotions, and some family members see her as an intruder and resent her.

By the time the film concludes, various aspects of the case haunt everyone involved in the investigation. One reporter builds his career on Leanne’s disappearance, and loyalties within the police department are sorely tested. If you enjoy well-acted British television or mysteries, then don’t miss this one. I really enjoyed the approach of this film; each of the five episodes focuses on one day in the investigation, and by choosing to focus on just five days of this lengthy, involved investigation, we see the beginning, a frenzied middle, and then witness the family’s despair as the trail grows cold and detectives are pulled from the case. My only complaints are the number of plot coincidences that defy statistical probability, and the solution to Leanne’s disappearance was well–flimsy, at best–and that was a shame given the depth of other aspects of this excellent drama. Directed by Otto Bathurst and Simon Curtis

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