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Utopia review - Channel 4 produces a world class drama, dripping with visceral colour

by Debs Marsden. Published Mon 28 Jan 2013 17:52, last updated: 28/01/13

Utopia tells the story of a underground graphic novel and five forum users who have never met and are trying to uncover the mystery.

Brooding, dark and atmospheric, the drama establishes a unique style from the opening, within a screen saturated with colour. Rarely does any new drama command such rapt attention from an audience.

Filmed in Liverpool, the drama takes place in an unnamed British city in the near future. The main characters discuss a graphic novel online (one steeped in mystery & intrigue; the author long dead) they learn that one of them has recently come into possession of the second issue, thought to not exist.

The pacing is excellent with the plot slowly revealing just enough to keep the audience guessing. There is much to the show, which borrows heavily from the style of many great modern graphic novels.

Shots are often cropped to look like someone has taken great pains to recreate a frame taken from the classic form of sequential art. Improving on the style of Heroes.

The palette has been artfully tailored to highlight different threads within a carefully crafted tapestry, woven with delightful style for the viewer.

The screen drips with colour, without being cartoonish, making for a sensual viewing experience and employing colour to unfold dramatic tensions.

The graphic violence announces itself in the first scene and never stops. An extremely violent drama, it nevertheless contains many truly funny moments. Black humour peppers the dark screenplay, leaving the screen crackling with an uneasy tension.

The cast is brilliant, but a special mention must go to the young actor playing Grant (Oliver Woollford), who takes us on a journey through every emotion.

A poignantly sweet portrait of a council estate youth, his performance sparkles with wit & natural skill, he is one to watch.

Liverpool has never been shot in such imaginative visual style. The use of locations is unparalleled, from majestic panoramas to incidental outdoor shots.

A return to form for home grown drama. If there was anything that could compete with American imports, this is it, without doubt.


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