Kindness of Strangers



10 p.m., Monday, Jan. 29 and Monday, Feb. 5
BBC America

Now this is how you make a psychological thriller. This two-parter -- part of BBC America's "Mystery Monday" slate of films -- centers on something of a common story line but pulls it off with pitch-perfect style and more than a few chills along the way. "Kindness of Strangers" is one of those rare time-tested themes that is done so well it makes it feel fresh all over again.

"Kindness" tells the tale of Ellie (Julie Graham), a new mom of twins who is understandably overwhelmed by the life changes and responsibility. She and her husband Joe (Neil Pearson) decide to hire her a nanny, Fiona (Hermione Norris), who proves to be a good friend and lifesaver initially. But what Ellie doesn't know is that Fiona -- a widow with a tragic past -- is plotting to not only insinuate herself into the Ellie's life but also essentially take it over and shove her out of the picture entirely.

Soon, Fiona is spiking Ellie's drinks with slow-acting poison to disable and disorient her and pulling acts that build the perception Ellie is growing dotty and out of touch with reality. At the same time, Fiona innocently takes over Ellie's old job at her husband's construction business and begins assuming more and more control over everything.

What's most compelling in "Kindness" is to witness this woman's building horror as the reality of the situation becomes clear in tandem with the utter cluelessness (or is it assistance?) of those around her. All here give exceptional performances, particularly Graham, in a film that can't help but unsettle you. It's easy to see ourselves in a similar situation. Indeed, so flawless is the execution there that it makes you want to run out and warn everyone who currently employs a nanny.