There are a lot of intense, theatre-workshop two-handers, which Smith directs with restraint, mostly staying out of the way and using close-ups sparingly and effectively. But the sketchy script also obliges him to fill in the gaps with his own, more esoteric imagery. This makes Cargese a brave choice of first project, but his compositions show a lot of promise. I liked his recurring, hand-held wide shot of Stephen swallowed up by a particularly drab and anonymous part of town, and his occasional trick of bringing out the nuance of the dialogue by laying it over shots of the same characters interacting wordlessly. He makes good use of the cold sky and snowy ground that were available during the January shoot, too.
Smith himself doesn’t appear in Cargese. Since he’s so faultlessly good in Doctor Who, you’d hate to see too many future projects where he contents himself with staying behind the camera – but it’s clear he has talent there too. It’s a nice problem to have…
The new run of one-off dramas will include Cargese, described by Sky Arts as a “unique piece of poetic realism which mines the tragic seam of adolescent love and loss”.
Directed by Smith and written by award-winning playwright Simon Stephens, it stars Craig Roberts (Submarine), Joe Cole (Skins, The Hour) and Avigail Tlalim (The Town) as a group of disaffected teenagers in south London - Cargèse being a village on the west coast of Corsica which is wistfully mentioned by one of the drama’s characters.
Cargese begins filming next week and is scheduled to air on Sky Arts 1 on 25 April 2013. Smith will not appear in the programme himself.