We begin Tony Basgallop‘s What Remains with a tub coming home after a hard day’s… whatever it is tubs do. I’ll not dissemble – I’ve never really figured it out. After stuffing her face with obscene amounts of chocolate¹ Melissa Young (Jessica Gunning) finds her way to the loft of her flat at the top of 8 Coulthard Street. She’ll never come down. Perhaps she thought she heard a sound like the young lady Jack White addresses in This Protector? The loft ladder was already pulled down and she didn’t seem scared, almost like she was half expecting it. It is an arduous journey up those cruel ladder steps and in many ways it is a mercy but it is the last one she ever takes. She will waddle her way through her solitary existence no more. If by some miracle morbid obesity didn’t kill Melissa then who or what did?
It’s 2 years later. Michael (Russell Tovey who you’ll remember from the same performance in everything he’s ever been in) and his pregnant partner Vidya (Amber Rose Revah who you’ll remember as Mrs Luther) move into Flat 4. There’s a leak coming from flat 5, right into their gaffe. It’s annoying that. When they kick down the door they mooch around and have a look inside the loft. There they find Melissa’s desiccated corpse. She’s mummified and she’s ancient and she ate an ice cream van. CALL THE COPS.
When they kick down the door they mooch around and have a look inside the loft. There they find Melissa’s desiccated corpse. She’s mummified and she’s ancient and she ate an ice cream van.
Detective Inspector Len Harper (David Threlfall) is on the case. He heard about it at the station and said “what, remains?” And they told him “Human remains. And what remains!” Forensics are difficult with a mummified corpse but with no signs of a struggle, no missing persons report, no surviving evidence it looks very much like one of those “whoever could give a fuck?” deaths like a gang member or a FlashForward viewer.
With no signs of a struggle, no missing persons report, no surviving evidence it looks very much like one of those “whoever could give a fuck?” deaths like a gang member or a FlashForward viewer.
And yet Len isn’t having it. It’s his last week on the job before retirement and he dreads ending up shit and alone like Melissa. He’s horrified that she went 2 years undiscovered. Perhaps by solving her death he will somehow avoid a similar fate – dying miserable, alone, the subject of only derision or contempt.
He starts investigations. He Skypes the former owner Richard, now in Canada, who seems genuinely upset by her death. Not much time for the other tenants though, this Richard “They weren’t a friendly bunch” he tells Len. Community? Scummunity more like. Let’s get talking to them.
It slowly becomes apparent that no one really liked Melissa and maybe Seal was wrong and that loneliness is not the real killer but rather one of the dudes in the flats. As if to confirm the suspicion Len gets whacked on the bonce by some mysterious hooded scrote as he snoops around the building. Way to draw attention to yourself secret killer. These people.
Aerial Telly has spoken before about the teed factor in Frank Gallagher but David Freeforall is a powerful grizzled presence here. Pony Codswallop did excellent work on Inside Men and he’s delivered again here with a thoughtful meditation on what it means to love your neighbour as yourself. Melissa died the death of a thousand cunts – sundry repetitive humiliations from her peers made her as good as dead long before whoever it was did whatever they did to finally put her out of her misery.
Who stands for fat girls found dead in their lofts? Len Harper. He’ll find the killer then make a lampshade out of them.
The verdict: She’s living fat²
Marks out of 10: 7.5
¹ It’s only one bite but I’m talking aggregate over the years. I mean seriously – just think about it. That motherfucker must have munched her way through a Machu Picchu of Toblerone.
² Well, obviously when I say living…