DVD Review: Irish TV Drama AMBER Fails To Go Green

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Irish drama Amber is a four part mystery surrounding the disappearance of teenager Amber Bailey (Lauryn Canny) in Dublin. Eva Birthistle and David Murray play her separated parents who attempt to rebuild their lives following the incident.

Amber is an infuriating piece of television. You want it to succeed, but it just adds up to the some of its parts. The performances are good and visually it shows a side of Dublin that is rarely seen on screen. However, the script by Rob Crawley and Gary Duggan just doesn’t ring true (despite the shadow of Madeline McCann looming large). The narrative moves backwards and forwards, showing the drama from different perspectives and this may have been worthwhile if the show had more to say. Instead the show retreads old territory, it uncovers nothing new and feels repetitive. One particular episode takes such a left turn tangent that when the end credits roll you feel as if you have just wasted 50 minutes of your life.

Apparently the hype surrounding ‘Where’s Amber?’ was up there with ‘Who Killed Laura Palmer?’ from Twin Peaks, and this RTE production only wishes it could hit the notes of David Lynch’s cult drama. However, Amber is clearly a mystery for those who like to be spoon-fed information (which is ironic considering the show’s ending) – it’s simplistic and populist in its outlook. At times it feels like Amber’s makers don’t understand the world we live in, as the presentation of technology within the show feels very antiquated. When Amber’s father delves into the world of online child pornography things should have taken a gritty turn. While you can’t fault David Murray’s acting, director Thaddeus O’Sullivan pulls back, delivering a sanitised presentation of things that feels ridiculous. Another show could have given us 8MM for the digital age, however what we get feels more like a warning video that you would find on the website for an online computer store.

Amber has the potential to go green and deliver a scorching edge of your seat television drama, but things are constantly stalled in red without ever getting into first gear. And don’t even get me started on the ending…

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  • Paul O’Kelly

    Sorry, but you’re wrong about the ending. It infuriated me to begin with — until I realised the broader point the makers were trying to get across: poor Amber’s Dad does his best, and in so doing uncovers a web of vice. This is dismantled, thus saving dozens of other “Ambers” from a terrible fate. So evil is defeated — kind of. The ending tells us to be relentless in pursuit of our end of any good-versus-evil battle, and offers a salutary reminded that we will not always succeed. The symbolism is gut-wrenching: the passive level crossing lights changing colour, with the girl’s progress a modern-day equivalent of the trip across Hades. And that music! So little, saying so much. Amber is a good show, but the ending is a master-class.

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