TV: Review

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Jack's aged mother first met her new relations when they shattered her windows, burst through the door, pinned her to the wall and introduced her to the man who was going to murder her son. Obviously there are no plans for a Christmas get-together

There are in-law problems and there are in-law problems. Inside Story's film (BBC1) about three Asian women who had broken with tradition to form relationships with white men included the tale of Zina and Jack. After running away together they eventually decided to marry, in the hope that this would convince Zina's outraged father and brothers that she was unlikely to change her mind. . Indeed Jack and Zina have been forced to change their identities and live a nomadic life after being tracked down through the social security system, courtesy of a bureaucrat whose sympathies lay with the aggrieved parents rather than the star-crossed lovers. They were filmed here in one of television's familiar shorthands for isolated persistence against overwhelming odds - seen from behind, hand in hand on a stormy shoreline, staring bleakly at the indifferent wash of the surf.

Things weren't quite as bad for Nasreen and Paul, who had fallen in love despite several awkward obstacles to the usual patterns of courtship. They couldn't hold hands when they went out together, for example, because they had to walk down opposite sides of the street; similarly their sweet nothings had to be swapped through a small cassette recorder which Paul left in his car during the day - Nasreen had a key and would listen to his endearments and gossip before replacing them with her own. She is now cagily reconciled with her mother, though the child she has had with Paul is still infanta non grata. Rachel Coughlan's film was an account of familial ties turned toxic, inflamed by the sudden, alien eruption of romantic love. Every now and then a man would appear to explain just how intensely these things mattered to a community in which cousin-marriage was the done thing - but his regretful cogency was redundant. When you've heard a daughter saying that much needed medicine had been withheld until she promised to obey, you hardly need telling that the parental priorities are very different. Death before dishonour, and after dishonour too if they can catch you and they're angry enough.

There wasn't a lot to see here, for obvious reasons - just the silhouetted heads of those who had chosen choice over duty - so Coughlan's film was unusually dependent on the melancholy set-dressing which often accompanies recollected stories on screen - ascending and descending crane shots of terraced houses or blocks of flats and gliding tracking-shots down deserted station platforms - the stately motions forcing you to invest banal scenes with a lingering odour of the dramas that had taken place there. It worked, as it usually does, because the stories were good enough to make you suspend the viewer's normally voracious appetite for sights.

There were things to see in Cutting Edge's film (C4) about medical rescue for those involved in holiday accidents. Not very cheering things, it has to be said, but, as the sub-title of the film suggested ("Four days in August") this was superior ambulance-chasing and ambulances are not really recreational vehicles. The description is true (even though the ambulances in question had propellers) but it sounds a little harsh in print - and it doesn't really do justice to the emotional tenderness of Malcolm Brinkworth's film. He had based himself in the English headquarters of Europ Assistance, where an array of doctors and nurses run a baleful version of a travel firm, ordering up air-ambulances to ferry the wounded back home, and he concentrated on two stories in particular - a combi- van full of Australian tourists whose grand tour had come to an abrupt end on a German autobahn, and a serious spinal injury involving a 16-year- old boy, who lay immobilised in a Spanish hospital staring at a future as blank as the ceiling. His mother, who had been bravely dry-eyed through the long wait, finally burst into tears when the Europ Assistance nurse gave her a huge hug - a form of indemnity presumably not detailed in the policy's small print. I wouldn't have believed it possible, but Brinkworth's film put a human face on the insurance industry.

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