Review: Keeping Faith

Eve Myles in Keeping Faith

Keeping Faith is a Welsh drama from the UK. Like Hinterland it was shot twice, once in Welsh and once in English. It’s an 8 part series. Keeping Faith is a tense and suspense filled drama set on the southern coast of Wales. There are minor spoilers ahead.

Eve Myles stars as Faith Howells. She is in almost every scene and carries the emotional weight of the series beautifully. Eve Myles had to learn Welsh for this part, which she commented was the most difficult part of the job. I watched the English version and wouldn’t know if her Welsh was adequate or not, but she did a fine job with English.

Faith and her husband Evan (Bradley Freegard) had a small law firm. Faith was home on maternity leave with her third child. Her husband left for work one Wednesday morning and didn’t make it to work. He couldn’t be found anywhere. His disappearance caused a cascade of events that tested Faith and everyone who knew Evan.

The reality of Evan’s disappearance slowly sinks in with Faith and the people around her including Evan’s parents Tom (Aneirin Hughes) and Marion (Rhian Morgan). Evan’s brother-in-law Terry (Matthew Gravelle) was a cop. Terry married Evan’s sister Bethan (Mali Harries). Faith’s friend Lisa (Catherine Ayers) stood by her side through the painful discoveries after Evan went missing.

Catherine Ayers in Keeping Faith
Lisa is a true friend

In addition to struggling with her husband’s disappearance, Faith had to go back to work as a lawyer to cover the work Evan should have done. The firm originally belonged to Tom, Evan’s father.  Cerys Jones (Hannah Daniel) was another lawyer with the firm. The administrative assistant was Delyth (Suzanne Packer). Neither of them knew what happened to Evan.

The first hint for Faith that something was amiss with the business was when Delyth told her she hadn’t been paid. When Faith looked at the firms accounts she found a huge deficit. The more Faith looked into the law firm’s situation and her husband’s secrets, the more an intriguing web of lies and deception came to light.

Mark Lewis Jones in Keeping Faith
Steve Baldini at your service ma’am.

Faith helped a client named Steve Baldini (Mark Lewis Jones). Baldini was a criminal who wanted to go straight and be allowed to see his daughter. Faith made that happen. The grateful Baldini became more help to Faith in her search for the missing Evan and in uncovering his secrets than the police were.

The officer in charge of the missing persons case was DI Williams (Eiry Thomas). Williams held a grudge against Faith. DI Williams was determined to charge Faith with murder, even though there was no body. She found (or planted) evidence of sorts from a related death.

The series takes place in little over a week. Each day the situation grew more grueling for Faith and her children. More and more secrets and more and more ties to criminals made Evan look guilty of running from a series of crimes. He left Faith holding the bag for a whole lot of problems. She was tested to the limit.

I was totally engaged in the mystery of what happened to Evan and how Faith coped with the barrage of problems she faced in the days after he went missing. Frequent plot twists kept me guessing.

The ending felt a little odd to me, but the last few seconds were meant to be a lead in to the 2nd series, which is in development. The series shows first in Wales, then on the BBC.  The 2nd series will likely be released in late 2018, but US released dates are not yet known.

Keeping Faith was created by Matthew Hall. Pip Broughton directed most of the episodes.

Also check out: Hinterland

This is the second Welsh series I’ve watched. Both were excellent. I spotted some actors who played in Hinterland: Hannah Daniel, Aneirin Hughes, and Mali Harries. One of the good things about modern times is how easily good content from all over the world is shared globally. I’m grateful we get to see series like Keeping Faith.

Like Hinterland, Keeping Faith put a premium on minimalism. The score was simply a piano theme most of the time. There were some beautiful ballads used again and again throughout the episodes. I liked the music.

Minimalism became visible because of a lack of people other than the actors. No people on the streets, no people in buildings or around the courthouse and police station. No cars on the roads except the ones the actors drove. No people walking on the beach except the actors. The series felt stripped down to the bare essentials.

There were extras to be seen in a couple of children’s scenes – at the school and at the swimming pool. The children playing Faith’s 9 year old Alys (Demi Letherby) and slightly younger Megan (Lacey Jones) did a very fine job. Three infants were used for the baby Rhodri, who was in as many scenes as the other children and was carried around by almost everyone who helped Faith with the children as she searched for Evan.

The director was fond of close ups, especially of Evan. We only saw bits of him as his secrets unfolded – often just his eyes. A view of the whole Evan was rare, both visually and metaphorically. Other close ups were used as well. Hands, eyes, mouths – it felt intimate in many ways. The intimacy between Faith and her children was warm and loving.

The cliffs, beaches, and green hills of southern Wales in Keeping Faith were a beautiful backdrop for the story.

Keeping Faith is a finely told suspenseful drama. I certainly recommend it. It’s available on Acorn TV. You can catch it on Oxygen or VH1 starting in May 2018. As of today’s date, you have missed the first couple of episodes on those channels, but they might be available on demand.

Have you seen this Welsh series? What did you think of it?

Season 2 news update

The second season of Keeping Faith was announced by BBC One, according to this article in Variety. “Acorn Media Enterprises has come on board to co-produce the second season and has picked all rights to the show in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as home entertainment rights in the U.K. and Southern Ireland. Acorn Media International will handle distribution rights for the series in Australia, New Zealand, UK and Southern Ireland.”

39 thoughts on “Review: Keeping Faith”

  1. I wanted to lime this drama, but I was not impressed. The main actress has the same response whenever there is a problem. She says “Shit! Shit! Shit!” This is not very constructive or helpful.

    We are told Faith’s husband owed a lot of money to some bad guys, perhaps 80,000 pounds. Why did he owe them so much money? This was never explained.

    The former criminal who is helping Faith contacts some old friends and suddenly he has enough money to pay the debt. How did this happen?

    The ending was rather odd, as you say. Where was the missing husband while he was missing? This is never explained.

    There are too many loose ends and too many holes in the main plot of this drama. What a shame!

    1. If I were in Faith’s position I would be cursing a lot too, but it doesn’t solve anything as you said. I thought one of the reasons he was in so much trouble was drug sales. There will be another season, so if you choose to watch it, you may get some answers.

      1. The husband disappeared without any warning and without a trace. As a lawyer he should know that if he disappeared like this, his wife Faith would be accused of murder. If Faith is accused of murder, her children will be taken from her.

        How could he put his wife in this situation? Why did he not leave a message for her to explain why he felt he had to disappear for a while?

        After one week it turns out that he did in fact leave a message, but it was hidden so well it was difficult to find. How could he be so heartless to his wife and children?

        This storyline is just to silly to accept.

    2. I agree totally with your bewilderment at the unexplained events and total remaining mystery as to what Evan was doing, and where, during his absence; only compounded by his sudden reappearance at the “end”, which seemed to me to be a naive and teasing void, left deliberately to compel viewers to watch season 2 (when)? The acting (in particular Myles’ performance, the eldest child Alys, and Mark Lewis Jones as Steve Baldini) and most of the music, will probably keep me watching, but overall I was disappointed with the meandering and incomplete plot.

  2. Honestly, I don’t know what I think about this series. I binge watched it in three days. The story was gripping. The way she just kept going after each new horrible revelation or problem was fabulous. So many terrible people. And that conclusion! Well, we’ll see. i guess I loved it, really. And loved the kids.

  3. I live in England bur am learning Welsh. I watch the Welsh language channel S4C (s4c.cymru) for practice, they have a choice of Welsh or English subtitles. I usually watch with the Welsh subtitles on to get the relationship between the spelling and the sounds of the words.. I found this drama called “Un Bore Mercher” – one Wednesday morning on S4C so good that I turned off the Welsh subtitles, turned on the English ones and forgot about improving my Welsh. I thought the ending was a little strange though,

    1. I have a friend who travels a lot and she swears by television for learning languages. She’s mostly working on Spanish, but lately she’s been planning a trip to Russia and started learning Russian. It sounds like you found a fun way to learn Welsh.

  4. Please note Virginia, there is no such place as “southern Wales”. I bet you never refer to a place called “Eastern Anglia” !

    1. Is there a southern side of Wales that faces the Bristol Channel? Wouldn’t that be southern Wales? I meant it as a geographic region, not a place name. I for example, live in the southwestern United States.

      1. The review says “the southern coast if Wales.” This expression is very accurate. There is no need to correct Virginia.

        1. Wales is a district, a part of the UK. Some towns are in southern Wales, while other towns are in northern Wales. If course you can talk about “southern Wales.” There is nothing wrong with that!

          1. Wales is not a district, it’s a country. And your insistence on thinking that southern Wales is correct betrays a huge lack of sympathy for our traditions.

          2. Goodness, I’m not trying to insult your traditions. I know Wales is a country. Please explain to me how one indicates that something is in the south part of Wales as opposed to the north, west, or east part of Wales.

        2. Before you comment check your facts. The words I’m on abut read ~”The cliffs, beaches, and green hills of southern Wales in Keeping Faith were a beautiful backdrop for the story.”

          1. Virginia, we use the words South Wales or Mid Wales or North Wales. And if you went to England and started using the words Eastern Anglia instead of East Anglia you would soon be put right I can assure you !

          2. I’m going to let the word remain in my review as I wrote it. However, I have learned the difference and in future reviews of TV series from Wales (such as season 2 of Keeping Faith) I will do my best to get it right. Thank you for your comment.

    1. I am not trying to insult anyone, but I have to insist: Wales is not a country, just like Scotland is not a country. Both are a part of a country: the UK.

  5. You are wrong. You didn’t mention Northern Ireland and England. They are part of the U.K. too ? The U.K. is an amalgam of four different countries.

    1. I am not wrong. I mentioned Wales and Scotland as examples. I did not say that my list was complete. Perhaps you will also claim that Northern Ireland is a country?

      The UK is a country which consists of several parts or districts or elements (but not several countries).

      How is a country or a state defined? You must have your own flag, your own stamps, and an independent government that is recognized by other independent countries. Wales does not fit this definition. This is not an insult. It is a fact.

      1. The United Kingdom is unusual but I believe that there isn’t anyone in the UK who doesn’t consider Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland to be countries. Yes, they wouldn’t be an answer on ‘Pointless’ but there is more to what a country is than being recognised by the United Nations.

  6. How many countries are there in the world? Look it up on the internet. The answer is 195. Wales is not on the list. I hope this can be the end of this debate.

    1. Okay, have it your own way. But please don’t visit the UK and start espousing your thoughts on this matter. You’ll soon find out how wrong you (and Google) are !.

  7. I flound this show annoyingly incomprehensible, but couldn’t stop watching. Where was Evan all that time? Where did the money go? How did Steve get the money to give her? Were all the alleged facts about what Evan had been doing true? If so, why did he turn up again? Etc., etc., etc. I will suffer my way through a second season just to see if any questions are answered. Ugh

  8. Hi Virginia, imho, there is nothing at all wrong with referring to the south of Wales as southern Wales like there is nothing wrong with me saying that I live in southern England and that my sister lives in southern Scotland. The use of ‘southern’ in these cases is adjectival.

  9. Why don’t we call an end to this discussion of the finer points of definition and language about Wales and bring the conversation back to the topic of the series Keeping Faith. Thanks.

    1. I haven’t heard from the other guy for a few days so assume the discussion is over now. Re “Keeping Faith “, I gave it a 3 – it and “Hidden” are very disappointing I feel. If you’d like to view the best one-off film to come out of Wales take a look at “Hedd Wyn” – it was nominated as best foreign language film at the Oscars about 20 years ago. Since then everything has gone downhill with Welsh filming in my opinion !

    2. OK. I thought it was pretty poor with too many unlikely situations but I do think Eve Myles is a charismatic actor. I recommend ‘A very English scandal’ in which she has a small but memorable part. I also recommend it because it is highly entertaining and an essentially true story.

  10. I watched the entire series mainly to see whether my first impressions were confirmed. Sadly, they were. The central actor’s mannerisms were really annoying especially playing with her hair, but the character’s behaviour was particularly incredible. Faith is supposed to be an experienced lawyer in a relatively small community yet she hides evidence and fails to complain to senior police officials, whom she must know personally, about blatant police harassment. She leaves her young children unattended for long periods. Everyone around her appears to have been guarding deplorable secrets of one kind or another for years yet she is blithely ignorant of it all. I must say I liked neither the performance nor the character. As for the ending, quite absurd and unbelievable. I have no interest in a second series.

  11. Torben, the Welsh Government says: “Wales is not a Principality. Although we are joined with England by land, and we are part of Great Britain, Wales is a country in its own right.” If Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Engand are not countries, why do they each have their own national teams in international competitions such as the World Cup and Rugby World Cup? Wales and Scotland were independent countries until conquered by England and forcibly declared to be part of Great Britain. They have separate languages and cultures and have earned the right to be countries.

    Back to Keeping Faith, it is worth watching for the stunningly beautiful Eve Myles and town of Laugharne alone. The acting is first-rate, the music lovely and haunting, the script gripping. More, more, more, BBC Cymru Wales.

  12. I am watching Broadchurch where Eve Myles appears in season 2. In episode 6 her character Claire suddenly encounters a problem.

    What does she do? And what does she say? She breaks a lot of stuff in the room while shouting “Shit! Shit! Shit!” Just like she does when she plays Faith.

    It seems Eve Myles has a standard response which comes out whenever her character is in trouble. I am sorry to see exactly the same hopeless performance in two different roles.

    I liked her when she played the leading role in Frankie (2013). But right now I have to say I am very disappointed in her.

  13. I know there is a director and and a writer, but actors can also offer their ideas about how to play their roles.

    It is too much of a coincidence. We have two different directors, two different writers, and two different roles. But exactly the same response.

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