Appropriate Adult is a British television mini-series, which aired in 2011. The series follows the interactions of serial killer, Fred West (Dominic West), and his appropriate adult, Janet Leach (Emily Watson). In order to understand the film, you should know that an appropriate adult is a type of guardian that is frequently assigned to children and adults, with mental incapacities. Since police believes West to be slow and to prevent future legal problems, West is assigned Leach.
Fred and his wife, Rose (Monica Dolan), are arrested for suspicion of murder. With the presence of his new appropriate adult, Fred is questioned by several detectives, including Hazel Savage (Sylvestra Le Touzel). Throughout the process, Fred meticulously provides detectives with lies and dead ends. It basically becomes a game of cat and mouse between Fred and the detectives.
Of course, Fred begins to develop a personal relationship with Janet. The film compresses nearly four hundred hours of communication between Janet and Fred into a two-part mini-series. It is believed that Fred sees his former lover and eventual victim, Anna McFall, in Janet, which allows him to open up to her. While Janet wishes to help the police recover the bodies and solve the cases, she has no interest in testifying at the trial.
Despite Fred’s constant defense of Rose, the detectives refuse to let her escape prosecution. Several times, Janet is given the opportunity to escape Fred’s grasp and quit as his appropriate adult, but she remains invested in the project. In fact, it appears she is beginning to develop an emotional connection to the man. With this and the media interest in her, Janet does everything in her power to ensure she remains involved with the case, despite confrontations at home with her children over her decision.
In order to secure a conviction of Rosemary West, the prosecution has a trick up their sleeve. How will Janet react, when she is forced to testify against Fred’s wife and partner? Will the husband and wife pair ultimately spend the rest of their lives behind bars? Will Janet ever be able to escape the infamy of the ordeal?
When it comes to movies and television shows which explore serial killers, there are many. Most are gory and shocking. Appropriate Adult offers a different angle to the genre. Despite no gory murder scenes, the series is definitely shocking, creepy and startling. Of course, it might be the emotional relationship between Janet and Fred, which ultimately drives the story. The film shows how easy it is for a conniving mind can manipulate and control anyone.
The series moves along at an excellent pace. This definitely isn’t an action, slasher. Instead, it is a thought provoking piece, which explores human relationships, psychology and the bizarre, true story of Fred and Rosemary West. The acting is definitely top-notch. Dominic West (The Wire) stepped into the role and became the murderous villain perfectly. Monica Dolan was fabulous as the eccentric, brash Rose West. Of course, Emily Watson (The Theory of Everything) was easy to connect with on an emotional level.
All in all, Appropriate Adult is a wonderfully unique exploration of the story of Britain serial killers Fred and Rosemary West. It deserves an 8 out of 10.