Stay Close: Star power makes Harlan Corben's latest Netflix thriller a must see

Supplied
Stay Close is now streaming on Netflix.

REVIEW: American author Harlan Coben has seemingly been one of the great beneficiaries of the Netflix revolution.

The success of 2018’s Canal+ (he had always been popular in France ever since Guillaume Canet’s 2006 cinematic adaptation of his 2001 novel Tell No One) production Safe on the global streaming service led to them offering him a multi-million-dollar deal which should ultimately see 14 of his trademark tales of suburban secrets and lies transformed into series or films.

Stay Close (now streaming on Netflix) is the fifth to be released in the past two years, although intriguingly it’s only the second English-language project after 2020’s The Stranger.

An eight-part take on the 2012 novel of the same name, it opens, after the requisite scene-setting slightly spooky prologue and Good Fight-esque exploding titles, in the home of Meg (The Good Fight’s Cush Jumbo).

James Nesbitt is part of Stay Close’s impressive ensemble.
Supplied
James Nesbitt is part of Stay Close’s impressive ensemble.

READ MORE:
* The Tourist: Why TVNZ's Jamie Dornan drama will be your first 2022 TV addiction
* James Nesbitt is haunted by the troubles in new drama Bloodlands
* Rick and Morty: Animation’s anarchic duo's Netflix return just as crazy as ever
* The Serpent: Slippery use of time only flaw in otherwise chilling Netflix drama

After another typically exhausting day, the mother-of-three is excited to be heading out on her hen’s night. After 16 years, she’s finally agreed to marry Dave (Daniel Francis), even if he does insist on all her friends wearing cringeworthy baseball caps for their big evening out.

But, when she returns home, she is unnerved by the sight of a bottle of champagne on her doorstep. Not because of the content, but rather, who it is addressed to – Cassie – a name she thought – and hoped – she’d never see or hear again.

Meanwhile, across town, Detective Sergeant Michael Broome (James Nesbitt) is somewhat reluctantly investigating the disappearance of 20-year-old Carlton Flynn (Connor Calland). While his father Del (Ross Boatman) is convinced it’s the result of foul play, the only spark of interest for Broome comes from the fact that he went missing 17 years to the day since the same thing happened to Stewart Green. It’s the only case that ever defeated him – and it haunts him still.

Cush Jumbo delivers a compelling performance in Stay Close.
Supplied
Cush Jumbo delivers a compelling performance in Stay Close.

Then there’s down-on-his-luck photographer Ray Levine (The Hobbit’s Richard Armitage). Now reduced to being a paparazzo for hire, he’s assaulted and robbed of his camera, shortly after shooting a children’s party “red carpet”. But, when he goes to view the photos on the cloud, he discovers that, during an earlier night shoot, he may have snapped Carlton Flynn during the last few hours he was seen.

Across the course of a compelling opening episode, Corben and now regular screenwriting collaborator Danny Brocklehurst (The Five, Ordinary Lies) slowly weave their trio of storylines together, exposing each of the character’s troubled pasts (at least to us) and planting the seeds of suspicion – and how they even may all be connected – in our minds. They and director Daniel O’Hara (Safe, The Stranger) refreshingly keep the fractured storytelling to a minimum, trying to keep us in the present wherever possible and focusing in on the rising tension and character conundrums, as shadows from long ago start to play on their minds.

Former Hobbit star Richard Armitage plays photographer Ray Levine in Stay Close.
Supplied
Former Hobbit star Richard Armitage plays photographer Ray Levine in Stay Close.

Of course, it helps that the creators have assembled such a terrific ensemble. Nesbitt (Bloodlands) delivers conflicted cop as we all know he can, while Jumbo is quite brilliant as Coben’s answer to A History of Violence’s Tom Stall.

With Sarah Parish (W1A, Broadchurch) and Eddie Izzard also making welcome appearances in small, but pivotal roles, the stage is set for a perfect summer evening binge-watch.

Stay Close is now available to stream on Netflix.