Time: A Prison Drama With Great Performances

The protagonist’s hellish journey is told from the transfer truck. Mark Cobden frightened, annoyed and silent while the other prisoners shout insults at each other and accuse one of them of being a “snitch”. Mark is out of place: he’s a freshman, he’s older, and he’s always been a high school teacher. But he will have to get used to being one more in jail for four years.

Then comes the entrance and the questions, a suggestive scene that the director Jimmy McGovern He takes advantage of it masterfully to tell a lot with little, to let us see the interiority of the characters without leaving the parsimony tone. The protagonist is forced to answer with a mathematical “yes” or “no” when asked if he was ever depressed or they choose a religion a la carte when he hesitates and babbles about believing in God and practicing faith. A spirituality that he must fit into the form. He begins the dehumanization, the procedures, the protocols and the numbers, especially the one that counts the time served and the one that is missing.

“Time” (“Condemnation”, in English alludes to the expression “Do time”, to be in jail) is a solid production of the BBC that went up this month to HBO Max. This short miniseries outlines in a few brushstrokes the contradictions, the gray and obtuse rules of a system which, in general, doesn’t seem to do much for the people who fall for it.

One of the strong points of the project are the performances. The protagonist is Sean Bean, face that is familiar to us because he was Ned Stark from “Game of Thrones” and Boromer in the “Lord of the Rings” movies. He plays a great role, content and expressive at the same time. Joining him as a co-star is the officer in charge, who all the inmates call “boss”, Eric McNally, played by Stephen Graham, who we saw in Peaky Blinders (Hayden Stagg) and “Snatch. Pigs and Diamonds.” He also achieves a formidable role, a hardness that allows empathy to filter in microdoses. His character is a man with 22 years of service under his belt. His son, David, is serving a short sentence in another prison and something bad is going to happen to him unless McNally starts working for Jackson Jones, one of the inmates he oversees. A crossroads that blurs the lines between cops and robbers, inside and out. Joining them is Siobhan Finneran as the prison chaplain who has very interesting scenes where seek some kind of repair and rapprochement with meetings between convicts and young students or even relatives of the victims.

“A specialty of Mc Govern is the study, not of the good man turning bad, but of the ordinary man subjected to extraordinary pressure,” says a note from The Guardian, which also highlights that in previous productions the director has already addressed other institutions such as the army, the church, the police, the media always delving into more intangible considerations of individual conscience.

In the inner and outer hell that we go through with Mark, aspects (some) not always addressed of this type of crime and punishment system are shown.

Time: A Prison Drama With Great Performances