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Five Days (HBO Mini-series) - mystery and suspense DVD / television miniseries DVD review
FIVE DAYS (HBO MINI-SERIES) Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 1/2 stars
Actors: Nila Aalia, Doug Allen, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Hugh Bonneville
Director: Otto Bathurst and Simon Curtis   Studio: HBO Home Video
DVD release: 19 February 2008   Runtime: 300 min.
(2 discs)
Format: Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD features: Audio tracks (English, 5.1 Dolby Surround; Spanish, Dolby Digital 2.0), Subtitles (English, Spanish), Behind the Mystery With Writer Gwyneth Hughes

Since we are not subscribers to HBO, I had been anxiously awaiting the release of this mini-series on DVD after reading reviews about it when it originally aired. I was definitely not disappointed in this deeply engrossing mystery about a missing woman and her children and the effect on everyone involved. This five-part series is on two discs, and each hour-long episode covers one day within a three-month period.

Leanne Wellings (Christine Tremarco) takes her two youngest children, Rosie (Tyler Anthony) and Ethan (Lee Massey), on a day trip to get a dog from the animal shelter on their way to visit Leanne's grandfather (Edward Woodward). The three never show up, and we are left with the chilling vision of Leanne stopping to buy flowers on the side of the road and disappearing from sight, the two young children left to fend for themselves as the flower seller speeds away. The children attempt to find their way home on their own and disappear as well.

DSI Ian Barclay (Hugh Bonneville) and DS Amy Foster (Janet McTeer) head up the investigation, and it soon becomes apparent that nothing is as it seems. Leanne's husband, Matt Wellings (David Oyelowo) isn't exactly a suspect, but his relationships with Leanne, her daughter Tanya (Lucinda Dryzek), and Leanne's parents (Penelope Wilton and Patrick Malahide) hold undercurrents of trouble.

The first episode introduces a large number of characters, only a few of whom are mentioned above. It's a bit difficult to keep each one straight at the beginning, yet as the episodes pass, you get to know each character's motivations a little more, and the story becomes much more multi-faceted than it appears on the surface at the beginning. There are race issues, political maneuvering, and family dramas galore.

The second disc contains a bonus interview with the writer, Gwyneth Hughes. This is a fascinating piece as she reveals her thought process about the mystery. The most interesting fact is that even she did not know exactly what happened to Leanne at the outset of her writing, she just let the story unfold.

Those who like a good mystery will be thrilled with this mini-series and will be kept intrigued until the end. The identity of the culprit may not come as a huge shock (then again, it may), but the experience of this show as a whole package is what makes it high quality, not necessarily the outcome. There is one character I literally could not stand through the first four episodes, and by the fifth I had a huge "ah ha" moment about that character's underlying motives. It was like that all the way through this series: bits and pieces revealed about each character until finally all of the pieces come together for a bigger picture.

Five Days, directed by Otto Bathurst and Simon Curtis, is highly recommended for anyone looking for a well-constructed story filled with intriguing characters.
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reviewed by Melissa Parcel
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