Faith Howells is a good enough mother and a decent wife. She’s the modern every-woman. The writers of Keeping Faith wanted realism rather than idealism for this Welsh thriller. While this may sound gripping, it leads to contention among viewers. Because she is so raw and realistic, some viewers may easily connect with her, but others may get frustrated with her flaws. Faith is a mother of three. She’s stir-crazy, and her only outlet is partying with friends and getting drunk while her husband picks up the pieces and puts the kids to bed. Too preoccupied to notice, Faith’s world crumbles around her when her husband, Evan, doesn’t come home.
Once they conclude her husband is missing and an investigation begins, her neighbors quickly accuse her of being an awful wife, terrible mother, and possibly even a murderer. Their suspicion is not unfounded: Faith is holding back information and taking the search for her husband into her own hands.
But life continues in these situations, doesn’t it? Children still need to eat, and the bills still need to be paid. There are many elements of realism in this production, including Eve Myles’ refreshingly female portrayal of Faith; she is quick to kick off her heels for comfort, she struggles to fit into her clothes, and her hair is as untamable as her willful personality. Faith puts on a strong face but breaks down behind doors. The character is relatable, but perhaps too close for comfort.
The investigator, DI Williams (Eiry Thomas), doesn’t hide her assumption that Faith disposed of her husband. DI Williams knows Faith is smart. It’s not the first time they’ve met. Faith and her husband are lawyers, the natural enemy of the investigators and prosecutors. Faith doesn’t think she can trust the investigation to Williams, but her brother-in-law (Broadchruch’s Matthew Gravelle) is a police officer, and he is quick to help Faith; meanwhile, his wife and her parents grapple with the loss of Evan.
Few characters can ‘keep their faith’ in Faith Howells as the police investigate her, search her home, detain her, and question her competence as a mother. Faith struggles to keep faith in her belief that her husband is a good man and finds help and solace in an ex-con who can’t escape his past. As Faith’s normalcy unravels into chaos, viewers may wonder how she can keep up with daily life, and it can be a thrilling ride if viewers overlook the flaws. Keeping Faith is about the struggle to hold on to hope and keep faith in the face of your life crumbling around you.
The instrumental score is piano-based and sentimental. The soft melody repeats throughout the show, and it carries the viewer along and inspires hope. It’s a highlight of the production. When they show the Welsh landscape, it is lovely, and the cinematography is commendable. The presence of Faith’s in-laws is a refreshing addition to this mystery. Watching Evan’s elderly parents struggle with the unknown fate of their son while trying to help their grandchildren adds an unusual component. It helps maintains the realism of the production. If you are having a hard time getting into this show, it is important to note that it picks up in episode three. If you’re not hooked after three episodes, don’t feel as though you’re missing out by giving Keeping Faith a skip.
The production can often seem like it belongs on the Lifetime network. That’s not a bad thing for some who enjoy melodramatic, far-fetched programs centered on a strong (yet emotionally crumbling) woman. The drawn-out, sentimental moments of Faith staring off into the distance can be irritating. At one point, she stands on the beach eating a strawberry while a soppy ballad plays. These dreamy scenes are not an uncommon occurrence considering they happen at least once per episode. It can stagnate the pace and feel unnecessary. Eve Myles’ hair is out of control and often hides her face. Many viewers mentioned how annoyed they were by her hair, even going further by saying she looked terrible as a blonde. Overall, the production is melodramatic and soppy. Although the characters are realistic, the plot can seem far-fetched.
The bonus features of the DVD include a short character introduction (which feels unnecessary if you’ve already watched the show) and a 45min behind-the-scenes featurette which is a joy if you enjoyed the production or if you are a fan of any of the actors.
Note: My packaging came damaged. There are two plastic clasps that hold the DVD holder in place, and the bottom one broke. The discs were still in perfect condition, and the box stays closed. This is not an overall product flaw, just snapped plastic and does not impact my review.
Final Thoughts on Keeping Faith Series 1
I had a hard time getting into this show. Although it picked up after episode three, Keeping Faith did not compel me to continue watching. I let out a compulsory groan with every scene of Faith staring off into the distance and turned down the volume when the sentimental ballad began.
Make no mistake: I found the story compelling and refreshing, but the execution holds it back. Faith’s wild hair hinders Eve Myles’ performance by hiding her face. The performance by the young girls who play Faith’s daughters is admirable considering their age. The program ends on a cliffhanger and will return for series two; although, I’m not sure I have the patience to continue unless the production cuts down on the elements holding it back. Though, perhaps the items which, in my opinion, keep the show back are precisely what makes it unique and refreshing.