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Put some respect on Kelly Macdonald's name

The multifaceted actor gives an unforgettable performance in the gut-wrenching miniseries The Victim, about the delayed justice after a woman's son is murdered
Thu, Mar 04, 2021

Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald was once quoted in the press as saying that she "very rarely" gets to play "glamorous parts". Her role as Anna Dean in the mini-series thriller, The Victim is no different in that sense, but my word, is she brilliant in it!

I will admit, I do not remember much about her award-nominated role in Trainspotting. I've never seen the Screen Actors Guild Awards-winning shows Gosford Park and Boardwalk Empire – or even the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men. This is quite clearly less about her obvious talent and more about my inattentiveness for which (not that she should care) I feel horrible about.

There is nothing forgettable about her role here as healthcare worker, Anna, who is on a desperate quest to find the truth – and justice – about the murder of her nine-year-old son, Liam, who was murdered 15 years ago.

Very few people could say they relate to Anna, but many of us who have experienced the grief from the loss of a loved one, know how wearying it feels trying to move on. The pain of trying to move on when the identity of your son's murderer remains a mystery – even after a decade and a half after the crime – could understandably turn anyone into a drunken zombie, which Anna has devolved into.

For most parts of this taut miniseries, which begins at Edinburgh High Court where the state is trying to prove Anna's involvement in the gruesome attack on Craig Myers on Halloween, her family (and the viewer) feel a sense of frustration over her obsession with solving this conundrum and finding closure.

She believes that Craig (James Harkness) is the notorious child murderer Eddie J Turner with a changed identity, but an investigation into an online post leaves policeman Stephen Grover convinced that Anna is behind the leaking of Myers' identity and contact details. Hence, she is answering to a charge of incitement to murder. Yet, she is unrepentant.

The series moves between past and present, as we see how the incident and the subsequent court case has affected both characters and their families.

The fourth and final episode, when the jury returns to deliver its verdict, is a shocking and twisty climax that could not have been predicted by anyone other than series writer Rob Williams.

In such a tense series with so many highlights, it is almost impossible to single out a standout scene, however it is even harder to look past the gut-wrenching pre-sentence meeting between Anna and Craig.

Asked by an officer whether she felt any guilt for the ill-considered leaking of Myers' identity, she responds: "The anger was bigger than the guilt. It always is, it's bigger than anything. I'm always angry. It never goes away. It is hate. I know that sometimes hate can affect my judgment. But it's who I am now. I was never the same person after Liam died. I started to see the bad in people before the good."

Myers furiously refuses to accept her apology. "I know about anger," he weeps. "She's not the only one [who feels guilty]. I feel guilty that my daughter had to see me like that, bleeding all over the carpet. That was her one home, the one place she should feel safe. She thought I was dead. Six years old and she's defending me to the kids at school. It was meant to be me protecting her."

You will need a box of tissues to get through it, and it will leave you thinking very hard about the criminal justice system and the internet mob justice phenomenon.

Now to go watch everything else Kelly Macdonald's been in. 

  • The Victim is available to watch on DStv Catch Up