Fiona's Story (2008)
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BBC1, August 2008
Learning your child is a victim of paedophile grooming may be every parent's worst nightmare, but what if the perpetrator was living under your own roof? What if it was someone in whom you put your love and unconditional trust? The damaging consequences would undoubtedly reverberate further into the mind and soul than you would first want to at all comprehend.
The drama opens with the haunting statement "based on many true stories", despite this account being strictly fictional. Fiona (Gina McKee) lives a peaceful and enjoyable life with her husband, Simon (Jeremy Northam) and their three girls. One night an unexpected knock on the door changes her life forever, and initially she cannot even contemplate what to think of such a devastating, moral dilemma she has been forced into.
McKee's naunced and heartfelt performance is the core of this brooding drama. She makes it so easy to sympathise, and just as in real life almost impossible for us to empathise. We have no idea of the feelings she is experiencing, cannot imagine her pain, and we wouldn't presume to thanks to her determined, understated acting. She is phenomenal, really.
Aided by some saturated, bleak cinematography and poetic but sensibly used score 'Fiona's Story' is one part a riveting drama, and the other an internal tragedy for this woman. Northam is suitably ruthless and manipulative as the man who may or may not have committed a terrible crime without descending into a cliche, and the script raises some intriguing ethical predicaments. And thanks to McKee, everything slots into place.
'Fiona's Story' is an unsettling and chilling film experience. It's a picture that exposes the darkness of apparent perfection, and the desperation that engulfs this woman who cannot even see if she has done wrong. But how could she have known she let this monster into her home? He was so charming, after all. The message is sombre, serious and frightening.
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