Ambiguity: doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention is certainly the premise in the ABC six part television series Seven Types of Ambiguity, which packs a punch of a very different kind.
Examining the story from each of the main protagonists in this mystery’s point of view, we certainly understand how everyone’s perspective can not only be important, but also the key to understanding what is really going on between all the characters in play.
In Episode 1 of this top TV drama series, the main protagonist is Stockbroker Joe Marin. He receives what turns out to be a false message via a work colleague, which lets him know his son’s pick up time has been moved back until 4:15.
When he duly arrives at the school he finds it all but deserted and that his son has gone home with someone else and is totally mystified; who has taken him and why?
Don’t read any more if you don’t want spoilers.
Based on Elliot Perlman’s novel, with the author leading the scriptwriting team, the television series is superbly scripted with a wonderful sound score and features some stunning acting from a very fine Australian ensemble cast directed by Glendyn Ivin, Ana Kokkinos and Matthew Saville (2 episodes each).
This includes Alex Dimitriades as Joe and Xavier Samuel as Simon the man who picks up Joe and Anna’s son Sam (Harrison Molloy) from school unannounced.
Leeanna Walsman is Anna, Joe’s wife. It turns out she was Simon’s girlfriend at university. Her general demeanour is quiet and thoughtful, so much so she could be labelled by some, detached even cold, which is as we learn is far from the truth; perhaps it would be more appropriate to say she’s continually naive in the ways of the world
There is a very fine performance from Hugo Weaving as Alex, the psychiatrist treating Simon since he was involved in the loss of another child from school. He gets his friend and lawyer Gina (Susie Porter) involved and she agrees to defend Simon from the kidnapping charges now alleged by the Police, who have been tipped off that Simon has Sam.
Sarah Pierse as the Detective investigating the disappearance of Sam delivers a fine performance as she questions them all about their involvement, including the informant Angela, a role nuanced perfectly by Andrea Demetriades.
She is Simon’s neighbour and would be girlfriend. She is also very beautiful and a sex worker (although her mother does not know it), who co-incidentally has both Sam’s father Joe and his best friend and colleague Mitch (Anthony Hayes) as clients.
This series is a feast for students of psychology, as relationships are thrown into crisis over the seeming abduction, despite Sam being found within a few hours safe, sound and happy.
Before that the action plugs into mid-Australia’s helicopter parents seeming fear of anything happening to their children if they are not with them 24/7.
Sam’s father Joe is busy at work negotiating a sensitive deal for his company with his team member Mitch. When his worst fears are realised we are left wondering if the son’s disappearance from his schoolyard may be a lot more sinister and have something to do with Jo’s negotiation, which is all about the Australian healthcare system.
These days we could be forgiven for thinking that it is a sinister topic indeed!
Especially when Andrew McFarlane, who recently plays scary characters well, is involved as Donald Sheere who is on the other side of Joe’s deal. Who knows, our health care system is hard enough, without any help from him.
Addictive, compelling to watch, the ABC released all of the episodes of Seven Types of Ambiguity following the screening of the first episode on iView, so viewers can log on and binge watch the whole series.
It certainly helps not having to put up with all those commercials and having the ability to concentrate on each character as the story unfolds in one fell swoop, so to speak.
Oh what tangled webs we humans weave.
Perhaps I liked the episode Mitch best, when he teaches Angela how to beat the numbers in blackjack at the Casino by counting the cards, and she teaches him about what luck is as they forge a bountiful bond and win a motza together.
Communication is one of the most difficult things we humans ever have to learn how to do… how do we start when the person you are talking to has already presumed, assumed and decided what you are on about the moment they meet you. Not sure how often that happens to you but it sure happens to me a lot!
Everything we do and see in life is seen through our own perspective and the only way that is informed is through life experience. When you meet someone you have no idea of their backstory and what traumas and terrifying experiences they have survived and won out over in order to be there in that moment. It’s good to always give them the benefit of any doubt.
Endeavouring to constantly update our own viewpoint and to learn how both prejudice and presumptions can be disproven and are not helpful to anyone’s outcomes. It is a very important skill for us all to acquire and yes, it’s not easy. One step forward and two back can often seem the case with il Festina Lente or making haste slowly the order of the day.
Also, so many people arrive at a point in life and then seemingly stagnate in time, which Simon seems to have done. He’s not been able to get beyond the feelings he had at one point in his life, that were everything to him at the time; a pinnacle reached he did not think could ever be exceeded again, and so he’s fought to hold onto the moment and the feelings generated.
If you think about it deeply it’s all perfect understandable. Not one of us wants to at any point in life, lose that happiest moment of connection when we meet a soul mate, which some people seem to manage on a regular basis, while the rest just struggle to enjoy it just once.
Human emotions are so deeply ingrained and affected by so many external influences, especially in our childhood. Learning how to know what ‘truth’ really is must be the most difficult concept for us all to basically get our minds around. The brain is such a complex organism and if parts of it don’t work as they should well, it can be a hard road for everyone to hoe.
In endeavouring to help his friend Anna not make a mistake that may cost her everything, Simon is willing to give up his own life to save her… a high cost indeed, although martyrs now have been doing it for thousands of years. And then there was Jesus Christ who would have be the best role model of all at least on that score.
Deserving of all the accolades.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017
Alex Dimitriades as Joe Marin
Leeanna Walsman as Anna Marin
Xavier Samuel as Simon Heywood
Andrea Demetriades as Angela
Hugo Weaving as Dr Alex Klima
Anthony Hayes as Mitch
Susie Porter as Gina Serkin
Sarah Peirse as Detective Staszic