Noughts and Crosses Review
by E. Stevens
**** 4 Stars
‘It explores delicate themes such as racism and segregation in a sensitive way, but without dismissing the harsh reality of a corrupt government and violent police force.’
Directors: Koby Adom and Julian Holmes
Actors: Jack Rowan, Josh Dylan, Masali Baduza & Paterson Joseph
Synopsis: In a brutal, dystopian society where black Crosses hold all the power and white Noughts are treated as inferior, unrest is spreading through the Nought community. Callum, a Nought and Sephy, a Cross, reignite their childhood friendship, but it quickly turns into something more...
Review of Episode One
Noughts and Crosses is a television series based on the novel by Malorie Blackman. It explores delicate themes such as racism and segregation in a sensitive way, but without dismissing the harsh reality of a corrupt government and violent police force.
Directors Koby Adom and Julian Holmes put a modern twist on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers as we follow the lives of Sephy, the Cross daughter of one of the city’s most influential politicians and Callum, the Nought son of the family’s housekeeper. Callum dreams of becoming a soldier at Mercy Point, an exclusive military academy. In doing so he would make history as one of the first Noughts to be accepted, however Callum is also struggling with the recent attack on his Nought friend Danny by a Cross policeman. Meanwhile, Sephy, who at first seems blind to the treatment that the Noughts face from laws imposed by her father, begins to see London much more clearly when Callum, her childhood friend walks back into her life.
Jack Rowan does a fantastic job at portraying the conflicted and confused Callum MacGregor, a young man trying to find his way in a broken and dysfunctional society, but his performance was matched, if not exceeded by Masali Baduza’s portrayal of Sephy. Although the scene where Callum first recognises Sephy is slightly unnecessary, Adom and Holmes do a fantastic job at developing the characters and steadily building the setting of London under the control of the vast Aprican Empire. At first, Sephy’s home life seems perfect, but as the first episode progresses we uncover her father’s prejudiced views against Noughts, the secrets her mother is keeping from the rest of the family, and the mysterious shadow from the past we know only as Yaro.
Directors Adom and Holmes manage to fill this short episode with a rich variety of stunning visual effects and tiny details that really make the viewer think, and force the adaptation to take on a whole new meaning. For example, everyday items such as plasters have been altered, and are now clearly made for people of a dark skin tone, a tiny image that is on screen for a matter of seconds. The fact that this detail is intended to be overlooked almost makes it even more powerful.
The episode draws to a close with a shocking twist, as Nought rebel, Jack Dorn reveals his true colours. We previously viewed Dorn as outspoken, but an apparent force of good against the oppressive government. However, he seems to have ulterior motives, as the intense final scene suggests. Though some scenes in this episode are, in my opinion, not needed, there are some spectacular visual moments, and the various secrets and mysteries woven within the plot make this series an intriguing and unique experience. The viewer is pulled into the complex world of Albion and Aprica, one of the many reasons why I would highly recommend this series to anyone looking for an intricate new drama.
Noughts and Crosses is now available on BBC iPlayer and was rated 15 by the BBFC.