Tom Hollander stars in twisty seriocomedy ‘Us’

“Us” is a few couple’s last-ditch try to save lots of what’s left of their crumbling marriage throughout a three-week sojourn by Europe with their mopey 17-year-old son.

But there’s far more to the brand new four-hour “Masterpiece” miniseries, airing June 20 and 27 on PBS (9 p.m. each nights).

Starring Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves, “Us” blends comedy, home drama, whimsy — and a beneficiant dose of on-location surroundings — in telling the story of Douglas and Connie Petersen (Hollander and Reeves), a middle-aged, middle-class British couple who embark on their long-planned vacation regardless of Connie telling Douglas their marriage is kaput after 20 years. “I need to find something else,” she says, earlier than persuading a gobsmacked Douglas to make the journey for the sake of their teenage son, Albie (Tom Taylor), whose relationship with Douglas is dicey and who’s quickly heading off to varsity. It will likely be one final time as a household unit, a time to “live in the moment” with out having to consider the grim actuality awaiting them upon their return to England.

Photo showing Thaddea Graham, Tom Taylor, Saski Reeves and Tom Hollander seated at a restaurant table in a scene from "Us."
From left: Thaddea Graham, Tom Taylor, Saskia Reeves and Tom Hollander in a scene from “Us.”
Colin Hutton

By the time they attain their first cease, Paris (after a clumsy prepare journey through the Chunnel), each Douglas and Connie are having second ideas about their journey. Despite their greatest intentions, they’re sending one another blended indicators and might’t fairly overcome longstanding, underlying grievances plaguing their marriage. “I’m sorry if this is confusing. I’m confused, too,” Connie tells Douglas, who vows to alter his methods in an effort to win her again. Albie, unaware of his dad and mom’ marital state, assessments the boundaries of his independence; he’s a fledgling photographer, the principle supply of stress between he and Douglas, and his insistence on spending time alone is testing his father’s persistence. (Connie is extra indulgent. “He’s only 17,” she repeatedly tells Douglas.) In Paris, Albie meets the free-spirited Kat (Thaddea Graham) whereas Tom, later in Venice, meets latest divorcee Freya (Sophie Grabol).

As the household’s journey progresses, “Us” intersperses flashbacks of the youthful Douglas and Connie (Iain De Caestecker, Gina Bramhill) that parallel their real-time ideas and interactions. Back then, they meet-cute at a celebration and fall in love, however the early seeds of future home discord are sown vis a vis their personalities: he’s a bookish biochemist who plans completely; she’s a free-spirited artist with no confidence in her expertise. By the time they’re married, Connie is already pregnant and their journey is simply starting.

The collection is predicated on the titular e-book by David Nicholls and was shot on location in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Venice. The cities lend an air of authenticity to the seriocomic environment and are utilized by director Geoffrey Sax as one other character in the story, every locale pushing the narrative ahead (or sideways or backward). Tom stays in the identical Venice lodge in which he honeymooned with Connie 20 years earlier; Kat reappears on the scene in Amsterdam at a vital juncture. And so on.

Photo showing Gina Bramhill and Iain De Caestecker as the younger versions of Connie and Douglas.
Gina Bramhill and Iain De Caestecker because the younger Connie and Douglas in “Us.”
Colin Hutton

Hollander, who performed unctuous sidekick “Corky” Corkoran reverse Hugh Laurie in “The Night Manager,” reveals a softer facet of himself right here. Douglas is a nerdy dad with a pointy humorousness; he loves his spouse and son and really needs to alter, however finds it simpler to precise himself by anger and a wholesome dose of denial. Reeves is strong because the enigmatic Connie, who’s in search of a drastic life change; she clings to a skinny thread of hope that she and Douglas can suss out their points however finds their historical past repeating itself. Taylor, tackling his first co-starring position, acquits himself properly.

The two episodes fly by earlier than you recognize it. You’ll need to spend a number of Sunday nights with this household, warts and all.

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