In World War II Jersey, a widow (Jenny Seagrove) takes in an escaped Russian prisoner (Julian Kostov), attempting to hide his true identity.
We’re all for true, inspirational stories of courage in defiance of evil. But sheesh, this World War II drama is at least as irritating as it is uplifting. Jenny Seagrove stars as heroic Louisa Gould, a Jersey widow with two sons in the war when the Nazis occupied the Channel Islands. Having witnessed the horrific cruelty of the Germans to their Soviet POW slave labourers, she cannot say no to hiding the desperate, emaciated young Russian escapee Feodor (Julian Kostov) who turns up on her doorstep.
Hiding him, in fact, would be good. But Louisa’s unshakeable faith in her community’s loyalty and her affection for her substitute son — who she persistently addresses rather creepily as “my love” — blind her to the dangers of betrayal. After enlisting her sister (Amanda Abbington), her permanently-anxious-with-good-reason brother-in-law (John Hannah) and her brother (Ronan Keating, yes, it is he, and he even sings a song, in Russian) in the care and feeding of the boy she calls Bill, she naively hides her charge in plain sight. Foolishly, one is bound to say, they go cycling, they go shopping, he assists in her grocery store. From what we see of the Occupation in Jersey (drably but oddly rather charmingly recreated) there were more resistants and more decent, ordinary folk trying to keep their heads down while waiting for Churchill to rescue them than collaborators. But inevitably when rations run short and tensions mount, the neighbours all start looking suspicious, and the fateful banging on the door by the local Nazi swine is a given, with obviously tragic consequences.
This has its moving, even amusing moments, along with a multiple-hanky final act, but it just doesn’t feel very cinematic and has a cast that is hardly going to set off a stampede to the box office.
A period drama that fails to escape the unmistakable air of a middling ITV3 drama.