The British hand that Rocks the Cradle

Sarah Lancashire and Emma Cunniffe in The Cry (2002)

Meg Bartlet (Sarah Lancashire) is a social worker specializing in child protection and would love a child of her own but after her second still birth is left in an understandably fragile state. It is shortly after the loss of her second baby that she meets Christine Rearden (Emma Cunniffe) who is a concerned mum as her newborn baby is prone to breathing difficulty and she has come to the hospital to see a specialist. After signing herself out of hospital after a mother accuses her of trying to steal her baby Meg starts looking into Christine's case and becomes suspicious that maybe there is abuse going on. With others concerned over Meg she becomes determined to remove the baby from the home even if it means taking matters in to her own hands and going against protocol. But the question is whether the baby is in real danger or is it just Meg's desperation emerging as she wants a baby of her own.

Ever since I first saw Sarah Lancashire on "Coronation Street" as Raquel Wolstenhulme I have always been a fan as she is such a complete actress going from light-hearted to moving to dramatic with such effectiveness. It is because she is so good that "The Cry", a two part British mini-series from 2002, ends up compelling despite the fact that story wise it is for the most predictable, well predictable up to a point.

Sarah Lancashire in The Cry (2002)

So what am I on about? Well I am on about the character of Meg suffering from depression after the loss of a 2nd baby and becoming obsessed with a baby belonging to Christine Rearden, using her position in the child protection agency to try and have her removed. Of course what we are lead to question is whether Meg is actually being ruled by her depression and need for a child or whether she is convinced of something is wrong and is going out on a limb to do her job. In fairness that need to know is part of the reason why you keep watching as Meg battles the system and takes things into her own hands.

But the trouble is that once again I find myself feeling like the storyline is not enough for a two part mini-series which clocks in at 194 minutes. Yes we have some subplots including one about Meg's father being a cabinet minister but it still feels drawn out. The issue really is that "The Cry" would be better chopped down to 135 minutes, it would be better paced and not feel like it is making more of subplots than it needs to.

Yet thanks to the nature of the story and the performance of Sarah Lancashire it keeps you watching. Lancashire takes us on this perfect rollercoaster as she goes from distraught in the immediate aftermath of the still birth to confused and then depressed and then on to paranoid when it comes to Christine's baby as well as dealing with her own lingering grief. Lancashire's performance is not the only good one as Emma Cunniffe is solid opposite her but it is Lancashire who draws us in to this troubled woman who we know has problems but can't be sure whether it is those problems leading her to try and protect this baby.

What this all boils down to is that I would love for someone to edit "The Cry" down in an alternative version which stripped out the padding and the falsely drawn out scenes as it would end up much more captivating. As it is the nature of the story and the performance of Sarah Lancashire is enough to keep you watching.

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