Assessment at a glanceThe epigraph to this gruelling adaptation of Ian McGuire’s novel is a quote from Schopenhauer, suggesting that “the world is hell, and males are each the tormented souls and the devils inside it.” Issues don’t get a lot cheerier from there (later episodes have virtually parodically dour titles like ‘We Males Are Wretched Issues’ and ‘To Stay Is To Endure’).The North Water, then, is a really totally different creature to the same old status interval piece, regardless of sharing lots of the typical element elements: Booker-longlisted supply materials, a critically acclaimed director in Andrew Haigh, the filmmaker behind the Bafta-nominated 45 Years and indie hits like Weekend and Lean on Pete, and a solid of acquainted faces (albeit largely obliterated by shaggy facial hair, furry hats and, finally, frostbite). It’s much more existential, a form of anti-comfort viewing that seeks to unsettle somewhat than reassure.Jack O’Connell performs Patrick Sumner, a former military surgeon who has been dishonorably discharged after serving in colonial India. Job alternatives will not be forthcoming after a courtroom martial, main him to just accept a lower than comfortable gig because the ship’s physician on The Volunteer (that the proprietor has promised to maintain him in laudanum for the voyage’s period is of course a bonus, too). This Hull whaling ship is captained by the greedy Arthur Brownlee, performed by the indefatigable Stephen Graham, now absolutely TV’s most in-demand man, dressed up in a matted brown wig and a sequence of lengthy fur coats.Stephen Graham as Captain Brownlee / BBC/See-Noticed Movies/Nick WallSome sailors, Brownlee tells his new physician, assume he’s cursed; his final ship went down, with many of the crew drowning within the wreckage. What he doesn’t inform him, although, is that the whole affair was a really nineteenth century insurance coverage rip-off — and that he and his unscrupulous moneyman Baxter (Hull’s personal Tom Courtenay, in a quick however enjoyably unctuous flip) have already sketched out a equally watery destiny for The Volunteer.READ MOREA dangerous omen certainly, however maybe the worst portent of all is the lurking presence of harpooner Henry Drax (Colin Farrell), whose violent job doesn’t appear to supply enough outlet for his murderous instincts (even probably the most cursory vetting, you think about, would conclude that this isn’t a person who needs to be let free with a harpoon). He manages to exude menace even when Sumner is checking him for venereal illness. “Are you completely detached to moral concerns?” Sumner asks him at one level, scary wolfish laughter. The reply, it appears, is a powerful ‘sure.’Colin Farrell as Henry Drax / BBC/See-Noticed Movies/Nick WallDrax is a horror whose each grunt and stentorian breath floods The Volunteer’s slender corridors with dread. Along with his hulking body and shaggy beard, Farrell is basically unrecognisable, however it’s a transformation that fuels somewhat than overshadows this disquieting efficiency.Haigh and cinematographer Nicolas Bolduc convey a uncooked, unfettered magnificence to the Arctic scenes; a lot has been fabricated from their resolution to shoot The North Water within the Svalbard archipelago, the furthest north a drama has ever filmed, which has definitely paid off — it could be tough to authentically recreate landscapes as hanging and unusual as these utilizing CGI, with out shedding a few of their energy (the solid look genuinely windswept and frozen, too).The sequence was filmed on location within the Arctic / BBC/See-Noticed Movies/Nick WallAt the identical time, the director takes an virtually forensic method to the brutal, bloody enterprise of whaling. A sequence involving the battering and skinning of seals, whose our bodies are then dragged throughout the snow, leaving bloody crimson trails within the whiteness, is unsparing in its gore; when Drax lastly spears his prey, a plume of scarlet springs into the air, then the whale’s surprisingly foamy blubber is methodically chopped up into tiny squares, drenching the deck in oily, stinking residue. One crew member reminds a repulsed Sumner that these foul uncooked supplies will quickly decoration the form of tremendous Victorian women we’re accustomed to seeing in costume drama, within the type of whalebone corsets and costly perfumes.The tempo is gradual and regarded, particularly because the journey to the Arctic begins, however when you’re hardy sufficient to persist, The North Water is richly rewarding. Its unnerving character research, probing the psyches of those “refugees from civilisation,” pushed to the very excessive by their environment and one another, will not be simply forgotten.The North Water is on BBC One and BBC iPlayer, September 10 at 9pm. All episodes obtainable on-line afterwards.