Review: Criminal Justice (Or: Maxine Peake Is The Greatest Actor On Earth)

Last night, the BAFTA for Best Actress was won by Maxine Peake. No question. No-one will out perform Peake’s turn in last night’s Criminal Justice (BBC One).

I tuned in to the show for the first time because, well, I have a little rule that, if Maxine Peake stars in it, I’ll watch it. I’ll watch it at the expense of absolutely anything else because, quite simply, she’s a tremendous actor.

However, as high as my opinion of her was, nothing prepared me for the outstanding performance seen last night. She was sensational!

In show, she starred as the fragile and broken Juliet and conveyed someone profoundly unhappy with her life. She ghosted through a wonderfully directed episode that had me holding my breath for minutes at a time.

All week, we’ll be treated to five hour-long instalments which run nightly until Friday and like ice slowly thawing, it’ll leave you enchanted and gripped. That said, this is not a pretty outing. If last night’s show is anything to go by, we’re all in store for an incredibly powerful drama that is stifling and at times, clawing with a suffocating feeling that will leave you prostrate on the floor and gasping for air.

Whilst Peake’s astonishing performance stole the show, the rest of the cast also put in worthy performances. Husband Joe (Matthew Macfadyen) is had created a sterile home with everything in place and controlled to the millimetre. The sequence that saw him packing away his powdered wig and placing orange peel in his shoes allowed us to peer into the world of someone whose life is marked by inches and seconds.

A flash of violence and one stabbing later, we see this depressed airport lounge erupt into a tumultuous world of tears, blood and wrenched hearts. The eerie stillness fractured into a chaotic and oppressive 30 minutes that saw this writer staggered.

If this show continues in the same fashion (rumour has it that it’s going to get better) then I have absolutely no doubt that this will bag a BAFTA… and rightly so. Preposterously good television.

About the author

I'm Mof Gimmers.

I've been writing about TV for a long time. I love it and loathe it in equal measures. I'm pretty sure the TV feels the same away about me too.
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