Final Thoughts: “Keeping Faith” Series One

The life of solicitor and mother of three Faith Howells (Eve Myles) is unexpectedly turned upside down one day when her husband Evan (Bradley Freegard) mysteriously disappears and as she tries to find out just what happened to him, it becomes clear that Evan was involved in some particularly shady business. Faith quickly finds herself being dragged into a world of dangerous criminals, crooked cops, creepy dentists and family secrets, trying desperately to keep her head above water whilst always attempting to keep her children safe from Evan’s dangerous double life.

Another recent offering from the BBC here in Wales that’s been made available to the rest of the UK, Keeping Faith, much like the equally recent Hidden, would appear to be another demonstration of the kind of quality drama series that Wales is capable of creating – another promising step in further bringing television made in Wales to the rest of the world. But in contrast to the incessantly gloomy Hidden, Keeping Faith is far more colourful and picturesque and in addition to all the dark and heavy plot elements, the series finds plenty of time for humour and a certain amount of lightheartedness in the earlier episodes, mainly because of specific things that Faith does or says. It’s a great help that the series is visually brighter and more colourful than something like Hidden and despite the often dark goings on, the series is filmed particularly well and as such, the Welsh locations look pleasingly picturesque and colour is used very effectively.

I mean, after Hidden, watching the very first episode of this series I thought “Colour! Humour! Oh, how I’ve missed you!”

Whilst not perfect by any means, the overarching story is strong and from the first episode, we have an intriguing storyline that throws up plenty of dark and exciting twists and turns as the series progresses and it’s admirable that although there are a fair number of series characters, it’s easy enough to remember just who they all are, their side stories, though they don’t always go anywhere, fitting snugly alongside the main narrative; Keeping Faith would appear to be another example of “Cymru Noir” (with all of those shady gangsters, drug dealing, dodgy cops and Chandler-esque sinister dentists) and overall, the writing is imaginative, confident and something a little bit different than what BBC Wales has done before.

Right at the very heart of the show, Eve Myles completely dominates proceedings as Faith and as such, she gives a particularly powerful, layered and emotional performance. At the beginning, she’s simply a normal woman living her life – showing boatloads of warmth and humour as she frantically tends to her kids and happily goes out on a friend’s “divorce party”, getting plenty drunk and having to be carried to bed by her husband. But of course, when things start to go wrong and she’s forced to deal with so many shady occurrences, the happy veneer gradually fades and as things just keep getting worse for her, she’s compelled to toughen up and fight tirelessly to keep her family together; much of the time she’s required to singlehandedly take care of her kids, cut short her maternity leave to take care of things at work and to investigate Evan’s disappearance – all while wearing heels!

With her recognisable bright yellow coat, Faith Howells is a strong and multi-layered series protagonist as she’s an ordinary woman thrust into awful circumstances and throughout her ordeal, she remains tough and determined, though later on she understandably shows definite signs of cracking under the pressure, and there are also certain moments where she displays warmth and kindness to others around her, especially to her wonderful children. It’s a strong role and Eve Myles proves herself more than up to the task as she confidently demonstrates many different aspects of her character and is overall the biggest asset to the programme.

The supporting cast also help to make the series a success and in particular, Eve Myles’ real life husband Welsh Liev Schreiber Bradley Freegard is enigmatic as Evan, sometimes appropriately shady and other times emotional and flawed, and Mark Lewis Jones provides some wonderful support as Steve Baldini – a petty criminal client of Faith’s who helps her out considerably as a certain relationship develops between them. Even the kids are particularly strong lil’ actors!

An intriguing, engaging and often exciting series with strong characters, great writing, beautiful visuals, and a terrific central performance from Eve Myles.

★ ★ ★ ★

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