“Of all the things that can happen to a person, there are a few things that could be worse, can you think of any? There are none. And the whole world, they want to look at someone that it’s happened to. Everyone wants to judge, look for clues so maybe it won’t happen to them.” Joanna.
I watched The Cry on catch up after my husband recommended it. Yes, you read right. My husband, who’s usually scathing of TV dramas said “it was quite good. I want to see what happens next.” Hell, me too. I’m completely breathless after the first episode. The Cry is a four-part psychological drama about a young mother Joanna (Jenna Coleman) who slowly unravels after the birth of her first child to a man who cheated on his wife to be with her. She receives little support from her now fiance Alistair (Ewen Leslie), who nudges her in the middle of the night to attend to their screaming infant, and sleeps through a long haul flight from Glasgow to Melbourne while an exhausted Joanna paces the aisle, while dispassionate passengers throw her ugly comments, “maybe you should feed your baby”, one man growls. Even a prissy flight attendant tells her to keep her tiny baby quiet. Once they land, Alistair bemoans over being jet lagged, while a bristling Joanna goes to get him a coffee.
As tired and wretched as she feels, the worst is yet to come. As they make their way to their beautiful beach-view apartment, they stop at a shop for supplies. Alistair goes in, only to be joined in a few minutes by Joanna, who inexplicably has left their baby in its car seat. My hackles rise. “The baby!” I cry inwardly. Surely she will have locked the car though? No. The pair return to the car, Joanna grimly observing a few tins in the carrier bags. Then, Alistair makes the horrifying discovery that their little baby is gone. He runs shrieking down the empty road, while a dazed Joanna searches the car, the magnitude of the situation not really hitting. Then, she feebly shouts “help!”, her cries slowly reaching reaching a painful crescendo, “help!”. It’s utterly gut-wrenching. My hand reaches for my three-month old son’s chubby leg (the same age as Noah) and I feel a cold shiver. It’s horrible luck. There’s no doubt many a devoted mother has released her grip of a buggy to run after an errant older child in a store, or nipped into the house for something with the baby strapped in the car seat in an unlocked car. But, there’s more to it. We see Joanna in the opening scenes preparing for a court appearance. Her sanity is being questioned. There are witnesses lambasting her for losing it on the red eye flight to Melbourne. Surely she wouldn’t have harmed her baby son? There’s also Alistair’s aggrieved ex, the reason he’s taking his family to Australia – to get custody of their young daughter. Could she have something to do with it? And even more odd, at what appears to be a TV appearance to make a plea for their missing son, Alistair whispers matter-of- factly in Joanna’s ear, “do you think you’ll cry?”
Aside from the unimaginable pain of a child going missing, we see Joanna coming apart at the seams before Noah goes missing, with his incessant crying. Although I’ve just been a mum for over three months myself, I judge her, when she falls asleep with her baby on her chest on the sofa. I judge her for keeping her baby in another room with a monitor on. And what do I know? I’m hardly an expert. It’s not just me though, she bumps into a pristine mum on the street who comments that her baby is probably too warm. Even my hubby remarked, “oh, I wouldn’t do that, and did you see when she fell asleep on the bed leaving her baby in the other room?” It’s awful that we’re so quick to judge, as Joanna tells her psychologist in the opening scenes.
It’s a harrowing watch whether or not you’re a parent. I’ll watch the next episode with my husband, as we hold our baby close.
The Cry is on BBC One on Sunday at 9pm.
Image courtesy of BBC Pictures.