You & Me evaluation – you’ll be able to’t fail to like this deftly written romance’s large, therapeutic coronary heart

Don’t be fooled by the breezy, Richard Curtis-like stylings of You & Me. This sentimental charmer, executive-produced by Russell T Davies, might appear like a romcom, nevertheless it’s extra David Nicholls’ One Day than Notting Hill. This can be a drama about tragedy, and whether or not hearts can survive the potential horrors that life might throw at them. “After the worst, most unimaginable factor has occurred to them, do you actually suppose folks will be comfortable once more, the way in which they had been earlier than?” asks up-and-coming theatrical star Emma (Jessica Barden). The reply performs itself out over three episodes, which twist, flip and pivot throughout two-ish timelines and several other years.

At its greatest, it’s acquired a contact of Chilly Ft to it. Business’s Harry Lawtey performs Ben, a carefree younger man in London whose life is modified for ever when he misses a bus at the very same time as stranger Jess (Sophia Brown). For the primary 20 minutes or so, it performs out just like the romcom that it’s pretending to be. The meet-cute is extremely cute, and there may be loads of pretty magical pondering occurring. Strangers daring to strike up conversations with each other! In London! At a bus cease! (In You & Me, buses are romantic, which suggests the author has blocked out any reminiscences of dodging a rolling bottle stuffed with one thing that appears a bit like apple juice on the 76 at 3am.) Ben is a journalist whose mom is a cleaner, but he can afford a two-bedroom flat within the metropolis that doesn’t have a bathe within the kitchen and a fridge/wardrobe combo! Being a mother or father of young children doesn’t appear to age anybody in any respect! I like this London, all sun-kissed and optimistic and pleasant and inexpensive.

The fairytale shortly sours, although, and this turns into a sympathetic and unique tackle surviving loss and navigating grief. If that doesn’t sound like amusing a minute, effectively, it isn’t, nevertheless it does deal with its burden with a surprisingly simple grip. It jumps between time intervals, crossing eight years, exhibiting the earlier than, throughout and after of that “worst, most unimaginable factor”, not just for Ben, however from episode two, for Emma, as effectively.

Intensely cute … Harry Lawtey and Sophia Brown in You & Me. {Photograph}: ITV Studios

Emma is a younger actor who’s about to star in a much-hyped new play, fulfilling her wildest desires. However she, too, is carrying a heavy load, and Barden performs her as if she has been dropped in from one other planet. When Ben turns as much as interview her for a column about rising stars, they discover that they’ve extra in widespread than they anticipated. The way in which through which their tales are destined to intertwine is way from simple.

There’s a lot to love right here. Lawtey, who has the ring of a younger Jude Legislation, is a profitable lead and pulls off the seemingly unattainable feat of portraying a likable journalist on TV. (Nearly as spectacular as investing banker appear human in Business.) His mom, performed by the predictably heat Julie Hesmondhalgh, doesn’t seem usually sufficient, however when she does, she is a sage and soothing presence, and provides the sequence additional coronary heart. Break up timelines have grow to be a TV cliche and don’t at all times land however, right here, there’s a clear division between the sunny earlier than occasions and the grey-washed devastation of what got here subsequent. It fits what the present is making an attempt to do. There’s a deftness to the writing that retains you guessing as to what may have brought about the “devastation” that Ben speaks of so early on, as he slumps, alone, at a bus cease.

It doesn’t grasp about. There’s a lot to be stated for its potential to roll up its sleeves and get on with the plot. Extra motion takes place within the first half-an-hour than in a traditional week’s price of EastEnders’ episodes. It dares to tackle themes that go deeper than it suggests it’d. Jess is from a non secular background, whereas Ben isn’t, and whereas the query of religion isn’t a giant function, it’s there, and it provides soul. It not directly asks an enormous and essential query about dying, too: fast and sudden, or sluggish and lingering? Which is essentially the most bearable, and for whom?

This can be a case of diminishing returns, although. Its first episode is its strongest by far and it units a excessive bar that it by no means fairly reaches once more, even when its ultimate episode, which goals to tear via the romcom classics, does come shut. It tends in the direction of staginess, and its large emotional moments typically lose their momentum in lengthy, poetic speeches, delivered with a Bafta-hunger within the eyes. However on the identical time, You & Me is heat and candy, and it’s laborious to disclaim the enchantment of its large, therapeutic coronary heart.

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