All my work tends to have come from a fairly personal place, but I think The Virtues is the rawest nerve.
New Channel 4 series The Virtues, directed and co-written – with Jack Thorne – by Shane Meadows is packed with pain, sadness, despair and shame but through it all there is hope. Hope and heart. And a rich vein of humour that sweetens what is perhaps the most affecting story Meadows has told to date.
No other filmmaker can do this so effectively.
It is not just the extreme realism Meadows captures or career-best performances from his actors (recent Big Issue cover star Stephen Graham produces a star turn to match his life-changing role in This Is England here), it is the celebration and compassion for people’s personal struggles.
The Virtues centres on Joseph, and will touch on issues including repressed memory syndrome – whereby a child suffers trauma so powerful that their brain can block it out, only for it to resurface either much later in life. Meadows spoke about this in relation to his own life in a recent interview with The Observer.
Talking to The Big Issue, Meadows was keen to point out that the way in which the central character in The Virtues is able to just about hold his life together constitutes, in the circumstances of Joseph’s history, a triumph.
“We are living in a time at the moment when people are looking down on people on a grand scale,” said Meadows.