THE TRUTH COMMISSIONER
Directed by Declan Recks.
Starring Roger Allam, Sean McGinley, Tom Goodman Hill.
Ham-fisted and clumsy.
This adaption of David Park’s novel becomes less interesting the more it delves into the private life of the public figure at its centre.
Set against the backdrop of the Northern Ireland peace process, The Truth Commissioner is the story of conflict resolution specialist Henry Stanfield (Roger Allam). Westminster has sent Stanfield to Belfast to oversee a public tribunal, with the aim of bringing members of the IRA to task and giving resolution to the victims’ families. He is approached by the sister of an informant “disappeared” by the IRA in 1992 with evidence linking his death to Frances Gilroy (Sean McGinley), a senior IRA member turned Sinn Fein minister (ring any bells?). Stanfield starts down the road of integrity, but as inconvenient truths come to light he is faced with a choice between doing what’s best and doing what’s right.
In the right hands with the right script, courtroom dramas can be a rich source of tension. This isn’t. You don’t need to look through Declan Recks’ CV to recognise that he has cut his teeth in TV (The Clinic, Pure Mule). Had The Truth Commissioner been a small screen adaption, the flat form and thin content might not have been as noticeable, and more space for character and plot development would have been afforded. As things stand, efforts to liven things up just come off as ham-fisted and clumsy. For a high-ranking government official with time served in Libya and Iraq, Stanfield’s attitude to security is frustratingly naïve. Elements such as an estranged, heavily-pregnant daughter and an improbable fling with an exotic stranger (yes, Henry, she is a prostitute) are intended to add tension, but we can see where things are headed long before the characters can. This leaves the viewer in the vexing position of waiting impatiently for the on screen drama to catch up.