Sunday, October 17, 2010

‘Love/Hate’: What is ‘Gangland’ Anyway?

Changing gears a little, but I was wondering if anyone has checked out the new RTÉ drama Love/Hate? I watched the first two episodes (both available on RTÉ Realplayer, though the first one may disappear soon) because of the list of likeable actors attached and liked them. A few quick thoughts coming up just as soon as I sell cocaine to Aaron Monaghan …

What I like about Love/Hate is that it isn’t trying to sell the contemporary appeal of gang violence and conflict to entice its audience. The show does seek depth in its portrayal of criminals and their families. The ‘That’s my brother’ scene from the first episode, in which Ruth Bradley as a grieving sister confronts tabloid reporters who are taking pictures of her house, is one of the strongest scenes the show has offered so far. Bradley is fantastic in it. As she walks away she asks them: “What does “gangland” mean anyway?”. It is a term that has been used over and over in newspapers whose truths may indeed be as thick as the sugar coating on their front pages. There is undeniably an overstatement of gang-life in the Irish media, and Love/Hate exploits such exaggerations. 

I found I enjoyed the second episode (which featured Freefall kindreds Andrew Bennet and Janet Moran, among others) much more than the first one. Stuart Carolan’s writing seems to mature as the show progresses. Tom Vaughan-Lawlor’s character Nidge was quite irritating in the first episode, and I had come to believe that the writers were using him as some badly-used comic relief. However, when the situation with the “load” goes sour in the second episode, it is his nagging girlfriend and son that Nidge worries for most and Vaughan-Lawlor’s performance is an endearing one. There is a practice of intimidation when it comes to conducting business in illegal operations, and it is great to see this nurtured in Love/Hate with instances such as Hughie’s (Brian Gleeson) bullying of the tomfool played by Conor Maden to give him his father’s car, and Nidge making the clown perform longer at his son’s birthday party. Aidan Gillen (of The Wire fame), who plays gangland boss John Boy Power, suggests that a life in the drug-trade is the only feasible form of survival in the Recession: “I’ll be my own banker”.

Nice acting and great ambition with the writing. I’ll stick around for the remaining two episodes, and hopefully get to do a write-up at some stage.

What did everybody else think?

No comments:

Post a Comment