Posted by Anura Samara, 28 August 2016
A powerful family drama trapped inside a thriller.
Exile is a gripping TV drama – it’s two dramas wrapped up together.
The first drama is a family drama. John Simm is Tom Ronstadt, a journalist in London who is sacked from his job and decides to return to the family home. There he finds his sister Nancy (played by Olivia Coleman) is nearly on the verge of a breakdown from years spent caring for their father (himself a former journalist) who has Alzheimers. Tom has had no contact with his father for years and is clearly resented by Nancy for never being around to shoulder the burden of caring. At the same time, there are flashbacks to a violent incident between Tom and his father but with the onset of Alzheimers it’s too late to resolve whatever the dispute was about.
On returning home, Tom starts digging into his fathers notes and discovers a large sum of money in a bank account – money that could have been used to help pay for their father’s care. From here, he starts digging deeper until he eventually discovers an old tale of organised sexual abuse in a local mental institution orchestrated by the local doctor who is now the powerful and connected mayor. So Tom’s digging involves the past but also threats to his present.
All the characters are well portrayed. For Simms, playing the dogged journalist is probably easy but Coleman shows her skills as a woman on the edge. Jim Broadbent as the father also does a great job – stumbling around in a confused state with very brief periods of lucidity which is just enough to encourage his children that an answer is there. And finally Timothy West lends an air of quiet menace in his role as the local mayor and villain.
This is a great series. Good acting and tightly written to fit into three episodes.