Critical Condition: Wanderlust

Wanderlust | Netflix, from Friday

➢➢ “‘I do sex very well,’ said the novelist AS Byatt, ‘because I don’t do it at any great length’. I wonder if she watched Wanderlust, the new BBC drama about a family therapist and that interminable dramatic cliché – an English teacher husband – having affairs because they are bored with each other. They are as bored of each other as I was, by the end of the first episode, and there are five more to go. Perhaps it is because I am 44, and married, but the last thing I want to watch on television is people who are 44 and married having sex.” — The Telegraph.

➢➢ “Toni Collette plays Joy, a middle-aged relationship therapist who yearns for something more than the boring, middle-aged sex she has with the boring, middle-aged, jumper-wearing man who is her husband, who is even called ‘Alan’ and is played by Steven Mackintosh. This not an unpromising premise, but so far her answer simply seems to be to have boring middle-aged sex with other boring middle-aged, jumper-wearing men instead … In more general terms it’s far from terrible. The writing is neat and funny; the protagonists have chemistry.” — The Times.

➢➢ “What follows involves a kind of tonal motley, as a slowly expanding cast of characters experience delights and setbacks, keep second-guessing themselves and generally fumble their way towards the end credits. The female-dominated indie soundtrack gives things a suitably spiky female energy at times, but the series will be most remembered for Collette’s magnetic, versatile performance – and for a palpable human sympathy.” — Sydney Morning Herald.

➢➢ “Caught between pathos and banter, Wanderlust is warm but inconsistent. Overlong wordless scenes soundtracked by weedy indie songs are abruptly ended by slapstick. Inevitably the pearl in the oyster is Collette, but she and Mackintosh both out-act the script …  None of which is to say a sweet and original programme isn’t visible at times … While the sex itself is short of revolutionary, it is cheering to see characters laugh and huff in the bedroom and who, occasionally, even resort to self-pleasure.” — The Independent.

➢➢ “There’s a sneaky freshness to Wanderlust, the new British series co-produced with Netflix that tackles the subject of a marriage that has worn considerably around the edges and what, if anything, can be done about it — especially if the couple in question is enlightened … Writer [Nick] Payne and director [Luke] Snellin keep the story intimate (even when one big early twist seems more convenience than coincidence), managing a series of creative choices that bring enlightenment and surprise to a well-worn concept as each episode unfolds.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

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