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'Innocent' is a Suspenseful Thriller Streaming on Sundance Now
March 22, 2018  | By David Hinckley

Sundance Now’s murder mystery Innocent could have been compressed into a two-hour movie, but it’s tense and intriguing enough that you’re glad it was stretched out into a four-hour miniseries.

Innocent premieres Thursday on Sundance’s streaming service, with a new episode coming out each Thursday until the April 12 finale.

Lee Ingleby (top) stars as David Collins, who is just getting released from prison after serving seven years for the murder of his wife Tara.

While freedom is good, David has a problem: Virtually everyone assumes he did it and only got sprung on a technicality.

His only believer is his brother Philip (Daniel Ryan), who spent the last seven years lobbying for David’s release. Even then, when Philip lets David come live with him, Philip’s boss warns him that his job could be in jeopardy if he lets David stay.

David, for his part, insists he’s innocent, and he’s particularly bitter toward his sister-in-law Alice Moffat (Hermione Norris, right) for greasing the path to his conviction.

Alice testified that David had beaten Tara, which became a prime motivation for Tara to tell him she was leaving and taking their two kids.

The prosecution argued David killed her to stop that from happening, and while David vehemently denies the murder, he readily admits he wants the kids.

They are Jack (Fionn O’Shea), who’s now 16, and Rosie (Eloise Webb), who’s around 11. Since David’s incarceration, they’ve been living with Alice and her husband Rob (Adrian Rawlins, above, with Norris), and yes, that now becomes as awkward as it sounds.

The original case was investigated by DI William Beech (Nigel Lindsay), who was 100% certain David Collins did it and filed his reports accordingly. Now there is some pressure for a new look, so the case is reassigned to DI Cathy Hudson (Angel Coulby).

She and Beech are an item, as it happens, but when she starts finding inconvenient factoids he ignored seven years earlier, we have ourselves another awkward situation.

For the viewer, Innocent quickly blossoms into both a character drama and a whodunit. This is the sort of crime mystery where no one knows the perp, including viewers, and the writers deftly drop multiple little hints that, in the end, become misdirections.

Well, all but one.

Character subplots include the slow dance between David and the children who barely remember him but are all too familiar with what he was convicted of doing to their mother.

David himself, while generally sympathetic, does some impulsive and ill-advised things that never quite shut down the possibility he could have done a more serious impulsive thing a few years earlier.

Innocent also employs the clever device of building to a false ending well before we know the story will really conclude. That gives some of the characters a joyful bubble we know will deflate, though we don’t know exactly where we should be looking instead.  

Innocent packs a whole lot of lies, deceit, shame and betrayal into four hours. All that mostly just makes the characters human, however, and while few are totally innocent, we like them enough to keep hoping most of them will end up with a spot of happiness.

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