Best Interests [9/10]

A literary work that has stood the test of time is Ian McEwan’s slim 2014 novel, The Children Act, about the state battling parents about continuing life support for a child close to death. That novel was told from the viewpoint of the presiding judge, and was harrowing enough. Imagine then seeing the tale of a hospital and its doctors wishing to turn off life support for a comatose muscular dystrophy child, only to be taken to court by the mother, whilst the father disagrees, all of this from the parents’ points of view. Such is the premise and the storyline of Best Interests, a brilliant, relatively short (4 episodes) series written by prolific British screenwriter Jack Thorne. The first episode sets up the courtroom conflict, the final three view the current battle and the past through the lenses of mother, father, and older sister. The direction by Michael Keillor never misses a beat and the supporting characters are solid, but the hearts of this wrenching, illuminating drama are the four key actors: Niamh Moriarty as the poor soul in question; Alison Oliver as the sister; Michael Sheen in top empathic form as the father; and, most of all, Sharon Horgan unstoppable as the mother. In the end Best Interests provides no slick answers to an unfathomable moral dilemma, but through superb filmic drama, it transports us.

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