TV Pick of the Week: Wilderness - review by Yvette Huddleston
Adapted by Marnie Dickens from a novel by BE Jones, this sprightly thriller occasionally teeters on the edge of going over the top, but always manages to pull itself back from the brink, just. It’s a compelling watch, with a propulsive narrative drive and excellent performances from stars Jenna Coleman and Oliver Jackson-Cohen.
They play recently married Liv and Will Taylor who appear outwardly to be the perfect young couple with a bright future ahead of them. Then, shortly after having given up her job and left behind friends and family in order to relocate to New York for Will’s career, Liv discovers that he has been having an affair with someone called Cara. She is devastated but is willing to believe his claim that it was a one-off and that it will never happen again. On this basis she forgives him, but then finds graphic video evidence to the contrary. Instead of confronting him on this, she decides instead to play the long game, and plot her revenge.
As a treat, and presumably to assuage his guilt, Will arranges a road trip of a lifetime and the pair head off into the great American wilderness to repair their marriage. Liv has something else in mind – as explained in her wry voiceover – she is looking for a way to bump Will off while making it look like an accident. She thinks about pushing him over a cliff at the Grand Canyon, but is interrupted by the arrival of another tourist, she sabotages his equipment on a white-water rafting trip but ends up being thrown from the boat herself. She almost goes back on her plan, but overhears Will talking to Cara on the phone and resolves to go through with it.
Then Cara (Ashley Benson) turns up with her boyfriend Garth (Eric Balfour) at the same resort hotel that Will and Liv are staying at and things soon begin to go seriously pear-shaped for all concerned. To say much more would be to risk giving away some of the – admittedly increasingly credibility-challenging – plot twists. Suffice to say, this is the televisual equivalent of a thrilling page-turner holiday read.
There is the added bonus of the always wonderful Claire Rushbrook as Liv’s mother Caryl; the pair have a complicated relationship but Caryl redeems herself when, sensing something is wrong, she arrives on her daughter’s well-appointed New York loft apartment doorstep unannounced. Her instincts are, of course, right.