Star turn from Tim Roth

Three’s new drama packs in the plot, a ter­rific lead per­for­mance, gor­geous scenery and a lot of bul­lets right from the word go, writes Steve Kil­gal­lon.

The Press - Your Weekend (The Press) - - Feature -

Tim Roth has his ac­cent back. Since Roth, now 56, aban­doned Bri­tain for Los An­ge­les in the late 1980s – in part be­cause he was sick­ened by the world of Mar­garet Thatcher – he has mostly had to fit in with the lo­cals.

But in what’s a vague par­al­lel to his own life, old Mr Or­ange from Reser­voir Dogs fi­nally gets to speak in his own Lon­don drawl again in Three’s new drama Tin Star (Mon­days, 8.30pm) in which Roth plays trans­planted Bri­tish cop Jim Worth, chas­ing a qui­eter life as the sher­iff of a re­mote Cana­dian out­post called Lit­tle Big Bear.

It’s clear from the off that he’s en­joy­ing hav­ing his own voice back be­cause this is Roth in ter­rific form – he’s funny, foul-mouthed, slouch­ing his way across screen, al­ter­nately cranky and amused. His re­la­tion­ship to his teenage daugh­ter (Abi­gail Lawrie) is well ob­served and rings very true.

Clearly, Roth is ab­so­lutely in­te­gral to Tin Star’s suc­cess or oth­er­wise, but it doesn’t feel like a spoiler to say that the first scene ap­pears to show him be­ing shot in the head by a masked gun­man, given all this oc­curs even be­fore the open­ing cred­its roll.

Then we’re thrown back in a time a year, to Roth de­cid­ing to up­root his fam­ily from Bri­tain and move to the Cana­dian back­woods for a slower pace and to es­cape an oth­er­wise un­spec­i­fied range of prob­lems which def­i­nitely, we will learn, in­cludes al­co­holism.

So first up we get those big, wide cin­e­matic shots of ice-capped peaks and pine forests that look like they come di­rect from an Al­berta Tourism Board ad­ver­tise­ment and may make you want

Tin Star.

to look up Cana­dian im­mi­gra­tion rules. Life is so suit­ably dull that Jim con­tem­plates tak­ing up fishing.

But within 10 min­utes, there’s a whole lot of plot gone sail­ing by, and Jim finds him­self at odds with a lot of the lo­cals and a ruth­less sand-min­ing multi-na­tional who wants to roll into town. Then we get the sus­pi­cious death of one of Jim’s few al­lies, and we dis­cover some­one is out to get the new sher­iff and his fam­ily. As An­chor­man’s Ron Bur­gundy was wont to say, that es­ca­lated quickly.

There’s a sense of a def­i­nite de­sire to get all the set up done su­per quick, the plot laid out and eye­balls cap­tured in those first 48 min­utes of air­time.

With nine episodes left of the sea­son (it has al­ready been re­newed for a sec­ond), it will be in­ter­est­ing to see which di­rec­tion writer Rowan Joffe, who wrote the movie 28 Days Later, takes things.

There’s some dra­matic mu­sic, sweep­ing cam­era work and in­tense looks that sug­gest a dark, brood­ing drama is on the cards. But at the same time, the speed of the ac­tion and the num­ber of bul­lets fired al­ready sug­gests it could equally lurch off into a blood-fu­elled old-style Western.

There’s more than enough there, any­way, to drag view­ers back in for a sec­ond round.

And a hat tip to Three – which usu­ally gets a thor­oughly good and of­ten de­served kick­ing in this par­ish for its slav­ish de­vo­tion to re­al­ity tele­vi­sion – for spot­ting, buy­ing and quickly ir­ing what is shap­ing up to be a very de­cent drama right in the mid­dle of a primetime slot.

Over the years, I have made some ter­rif­i­cally bad choices, com­mit­ted some ap­palling er­rors of judge­ment, and oc­ca­sion­ally found my­self in a ter­ri­ble pickle. These are, to be frank, the most in­ter­est­ing things about me. If I’m ever fun at a din­ner party, it’s down to those wild mis­takes.

We don’t ac­knowl­edge our screw-ups enough, I reckon. We’re all so busy pre­sent­ing our­selves to the neigh­bours, our kids, the boss, and our Facebook friends as Our Best Selves con­sis­tently Win­ning At Life we for­get that our blun­ders in­form who we are just as much as our mo­ments of glory.

You don’t have to make it a sta­tus up­date, but it might be a great idea this week­end to sit down and make a pri­vate list of all the times you’ve bro­ken a law – but got away with it. Driv­ing too fast, or af­ter three wines; that joint you in­haled; the lie you told on that form; those youth­ful in­dis­cre­tions.

And then make another list of the laws you might be will­ing to break if you were ever des­per­ate enough and re­ally, re­ally needed to.

Then af­ter you’ve made your list, re­mind your­self that some peo­ple live with that kind of des­per­a­tion ev­ery day. It’s easy to think of crim­i­nals as “other”; harder to ap­pre­ci­ate they’re like us on a dif­fer­ent kind of day.

An elec­tion cam­paign must be its own kind of “des­per­ate time” for the ma­jor play­ers. Some night­mar­ish com­bi­na­tion of job in­ter­view, per­for­mance re­view and pop­u­lar­ity con­test. So var­i­ous politi­cians will mis­s­peak or over­state or go wildly off script be­tween now and Septem­ber 23. The sug­ges­tion last week­end that crim­i­nals “have fewer hu­man rights than others” can, most kindly, be put down to that. Be­cause the thing about hu­man rights is that all you need to qual­ify for them is “be hu­man”.

Mak­ing some­one feel less wor­thy only makes it harder for them to reach out for help, less likely to live by the rules. Think about the things that hold you back from a wild life of crime – your per­sonal sense of right and wrong, sure, but also your com­mit­ment to liv­ing ap­pro­pri­ately within so­ci­ety. And con­sider what would hap­pen if the so­ci­ety you lived in told you that you were worth less than some­one else. Sod ’em, right?

It’s not just me fram­ing it this way – namby-pamby bleed­ing-heart lib­eral snowflake over here, hello! – it is re­cov­er­ing ad­dicts and re­formed crim­i­nals who have found their way out the other side. Clin­ics, com­mu­nity sup­port groups and re­hab cen­tres are so of­ten run by peo­ple who once made all of the mis­takes, and whose work is now in­formed by that. Peo­ple like us, only with pos­si­bly more colour­ful sto­ries of dis­as­ter and re­demp­tion. from gov­ern­ments that would erode our in­di­vid­ual rights. Some­times the two cross paths, so we have a choice. We ei­ther trust the sys­tem that en­sures wrong­do­ing is pun­ished, while bal­anc­ing that against the rights of those ac­cused or even con­victed of do­ing the wrong, or roll back the clock, and start down the slip­pery slope of re-ex­clud­ing cer­tain mem­bers of our so­ci­ety. The first op­tion is not only fairer, it’s a lot safer, too.

When it comes to pri­vacy, to those who hold the opin­ion “if you’ve got noth­ing to hide, you needn’t worry about it”, I say this: ev­ery­one has some­thing to hide. It might be some­thing you’ve done. It might be some­thing you’ve said about some­one else that you wouldn’t ever want them to find out. It might be a par­tic­u­larly hideous shirt that you wear around the house but throw into the laun­dry ev­ery time there’s a knock at the door. We all make mis­takes.

One mis­take we can­not make is think­ing that by erod­ing the rights of those we dis­agree with, we are some­how strength­en­ing our own. If they’ve done some­thing wrong, we have ways and means of ad­dress­ing that legally. It may take longer than we would like, and it may not work out per­fectly 100 per cent of the time, but that’s a price I’m will­ing to pay.

Tim Roth stars as Jim Worth, a Bri­tish cop look­ing for a quiet life, in Three’s thriller

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