If you were living under a rock, then perhaps you might not have heard about the ABC adaptation of Christos Tsiolkas’ novel The Slap. Indeed issues of extravagant promotion have plagued some discussion around the role of the ABC. Dipping into commercial tactics has been a common complaint. From a personal point of view, yes, the media surrounding The Slap has been huge, especially for the ABC. What I am more interested in though, is seeing how this hype will last and flow over the course of the 8-week airing schedule.
Episode 2 brings Anouk’s segment. Personally, I found Anouk’s character in the book to be one of the more relatable and likeable characters. It was very pleasing to see this had been carried through. Her firmness remained intact, although it seems to have been a result of her stressful life in the television adaptation, rather than just being a stern, strong woman. Indeed Anouk is severely vulnerable in this episode.
Essie Davis was simply astonishing. Her physical appearance appropriately masked the complicated internal struggles she was going through. She tackles the dialogue with sensitivity and pride. Anouk has fallen prey to the constant “24/7-always-turned-on” world which often surrounds a busy person with a successful career. She has two phones, which are constantly ringing, and she cannot even resist checking them, even in the act of sex.
Anouk’s reticence to the actual event of the slap is what I find particularly compelling. From the outside, this is the story about the disintegration of friendships and relationships that follow the event of a slap at a barbecue. And yet Anouk could not be less interested in it. Her opinions are extremely valid, and her willingness to air them vocally to Rosie put her in much strife.
With both Hector and Anouk, we see characters who are heading towards what some would call the “clichéd mid-life crisis”. This is not an unfamiliar territory and has been dealt with extensively in films and on television. With Anouk though, the typical falling apart nature of her character is balanced with extraneous issues occurring in her life. This factor as just as much to blame for the extreme disarray as is her complicated and stressful daily life. Her relationships with her friends, mother and partner (the much younger Rhys played well by Oliver Ackland) come under huge scrutiny, as well as her relationship to her work. So much ground is covered over a small hour that it is no wonder Anouk finds her life stressful.
The first episode with Hector was a tough episode and demanded a lot of exposition that dipped into character introduction, but did not spoil them for their own episode. Director Jessica Hobbs and writer Emily Ballou had a lot more to play with and managed to immerse themselves in Anouk’s fast-paced world. However, the first line of dialogue spoken by William McInnes as the narrator once again proved completely superfluous.
Anouk’s episode was filled with dramatic tension, terrific acting from its lead and supporting characters (with special mention to Sophie Okonedo, Melissa George and Gillian Jones who was amazingly terrific and completely unrecognisable as Anouk’s mother Rachel) and sensitive writing and directing. The Slap proves to be getting stronger and will be fascinating to see where we are taken each week.
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The Slap airs at 8.30pm Thursday nights on ABC1. It also screens on ABC2 and iView.