Series: “Conversations with Friends” (streaming on Lionsgate Play)
Duration: Approximately 28.5 minutes per episode (Total 12 episodes)
Directors: Lenny Abrahamson, Leanne Welham
Starring: Alison Oliver, Sasha Lane, Joe Alwyn, Jemima Kirke
IANS classification: ****
This 12-episode series airing on Lionsgate Play is based on the novel of the same name by author Sally Rooney.
The series is a shrewd psychological assessment of the power struggles between sophisticated young intellectuals who are in a relationship. It tells us how people behave when they are in one and what happens after.
Frances and Bobbi are smart and talented 21-year-old students. Frances writes poetry and studies English, while Bobbi, her loyal friend and former lesbian lover, studies history and politics and identifies as a communal anarchist.
They both like to participate in poetic slams where they confront each other with loquacity and precocity.
Frances suffers from low self-esteem, is unable to express her emotions, and often uses her sharp wit to sidestep uncomfortable topics. She is in awe of Bobbi, whose personality is just opposite to hers. While her lips are tight, Bobbi – dazzling and controversial in her demeanor, opens an open book with her emotions and her speech.
Their friendship hits a rough patch when they meet Melissa and Nick, a wealthy couple in their thirties, and unexpectedly, but perhaps inevitably, the intimacies between the foursome grow and complicate their lives. Suffice to say that the series is a love quadrilateral between two friends and a married couple.
But the core of the show tends not to be how people in relationships hurt each other, but how pain goes hand in hand with intimacy and the idea that intimate relationships reshape the self.
Told primarily from Frances’ perspective, the series is compelling as the plot is focused and unfolds at a leisurely pace. He has a healthy balance of internal struggle that juggles between reality and consequences. The series is relatable as it takes Frances’ everyday life, thoughts and feelings and interprets them in an unparalleled poetic way. It makes you realize that everything she does is part of growing up.
Yes, the characters talk, and their conversation doesn’t adhere to the stereotypical pattern we’re used to, that makes this series stand out, and that’s probably how it got its title. The dialogues are neither dramatic nor camouflaged in the histrionicism of the characters, but they have an emotional impact. The romance and chemistry between Frances and Nick is tangible.
Alison Oliver as Frances, Sasha Lane as Bobbi, Jemima Kirke as Melissa, Joe Alwyn as Nick, Alex Murphy as Frances’ co-worker, and Frances’ parents; are all brilliant, living in the skin of their characters.
All in all, this analytical series on adultery ends not with the conclusion of the case and the punishment of all the protagonists but with its conscious and deliberate pursuit and the rejection of all analysis.