Moving On: Poetry of Silence (2011)

TV episode review: Moving On, series 3, episode 5: Poetry of Silence (2011), directed by Ian Barber, written by Esther Wilson

When I first saw the trailers for the first series of Moving On, I decided to watch the show. Admittedly, a big part of this decision was seeing Richard Armitage would be in it – and then he turned out to be in just one of the episodes. It also turned out that each episode of Moving On was free-standing. I then completely missed series two, sadly, and only caught this episode – the last one – of series three, because I didn’t even know it was on and only caught this one by accident.

[Source: Life of Wylie]

In Poetry of Silence, we meet Kieran Murphy (Joe Dempsie, seen last year as the main antagonist of The Fades). He’s a quiet young man who is going to university for the first time, and is a bit nervous. His parents John (Ben Daniels) and Ann (Fay Ripley, Cold Feet) reckons he’ll be fine, but Kieran isn’t fine. He starts lagging behind on his schoolwork and ends up trying to committ suicide, but girlfriend Amy (Jo Woodcock) gets to him in time, and is sworn not to tell his parents that he ended up in hospital – or why. But when they come and visit, and find out he’s out of money, out of food, behind on his schoolwork and had been to hospital, they take him home, so he can get himself back on track, but it’s not that easy.

Considering the way I’ve previously spoken out quite strongly about depressing stories, you might be surprised to hear that I love the episodes and concept of Moving On. Yes, Poetry of Silence is quite depressing, because it’s about depression, and that’s never going to be a fun topic. The thing is, Moving On is about what it says in the title – moving on. It’s about overcoming your problems, whatever they may be, and that means that the outlook is always positive. Sure, things might suck, but you’re getting there, trying to look past it.

The subjects are also so full of compassion and humanity that you can’t help being touched by them. Some might find the episodes overbearingly saccharine, even though they’re not actually very sweet, but I like them. Yes, they’re heart-wrenching, and yes, they’re low key (not like Moving On has ever been a primetime show), but they’re also feeling very true to real life.

For Poetry of Silence, this means that Kieran’s lack of motivation and everything else is familiar to anyone who has ever suffered through a depression, whether it be full on or partial. The feeling of hopelessness and that you might cry yourself to sleep for no real reason, yup, you can relate. (Just like the blog Hyperbole and a Half illustrated so well a while back.)

And that’s why Moving On works so well – you can relate. Even if the subject isn’t something you’ve experienced first hand, you might know someone who has, or you can empathise with the characters anyway. That’s what makes each episode feel so personal, and why they’re so touching. Just wish I’d seen the other four episodes, and all of series two. Maybe I’ll have to settle for a re-watch of series one instead. It is a remarkable show, nonetheless, and I hope they keep doing more of it.

For this episode, we can probably all relate to what it’s like going to a new school, even if we might not have gone to a campus away from home. Problems fitting in, problems with the new way of studying (to be honest, the whole university thing didn’t really work for me either), of growing up, of falling behind, of nagging parents who want to help but don’t know how, and so on.

I very nearly cried watching Poetry of Silence. The actors all do a great job at giving us a slice of real life. Ripley could be someone’s mum, Daniels someone’s dad, and Dempsie could definitely be that guy in your college or university class who dropped out and never showed his face on campus again.

5 out of 5 empty fridges.

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