What happens when you tell a story that isn’t entirely yours to tell? Twenty years ago, one drunken night changed three women’s lives forever. Now one of them has turned their real-life trauma into a novel that isn’t very fictional at all, and the past is about to come crashing back into the trio’s lives, threatening to open old wounds they’d rather forget.
A mystery, a tragedy, a look at the secrets of a small coastal community and the story of three friends whose connection was shattered forever, One Night is Australian drama at its best. It’s streaming on Paramount+ from September 1; here are our five reasons it’s not to be missed.
It’s a story of the past catching up to the present
Twenty years ago in a coastal NSW town, one night changed the course of three friends’ lives. But that’s pretty much all the trio of women can agree on. The details of what actually happened on that night is a topic of fierce debate – or it would be, if they’d ever really talked to each other about what went on.
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Tess (Jodie Whittaker in her first role after Doctor Who) fled overseas, starting a new life in London with wife Vicki (Kat Stewart, Five Bedrooms). Hat (Yael Stone, Orange Is the New Black) stayed put, becoming a lawyer and a pillar of the community. Simone (Nicole da Silva, Rush and Wentworth) always wanted to become a writer, but the only story she had to tell was of that one night. She thought writing it down would set her free; it wasn’t until her novel became a smash hit that she realised her version of what went on wasn’t shared by the others.
The characters are complex and enthralling
Simone is brittle, fragile, still scarred by that night and trying to find a way forward. There’s a reason she spends a lot of the first episode either hitting the bottle or hooking up with a guy from Tinder as another form of escapism.
Hat seems to have it all together, but she’s tracking her husband’s location even when he’s out for a coffee. Her need for control clearly stems from that night when things got out of hand, and having Simone’s book out there exposing everything is the last thing she wants. And Tess seems to be drifting through life. What happened to her shattered them all; is she the only one at peace with what happened, or has she just pushed it so far down that coming back home will tear her apart?
The locations are breathtaking (and familiar)
One Night is set on the South Coast just outside Sydney, and the Illawarra region has never looked better. Big beaches, quaint shops, rugged coastline, sweeping forests – this place has it all (including some sketchy characters, but we’ll get to them later).
Early on there’s a scene where Tess’s UK family tells her that they’d much rather spend their time in Australia down on the South Coast, despite having a luxury mansion waiting for them in Sydney.
Even the side characters are gripping
Is Noni Hazlehurst running a crime family? Well, more a family involved in crime than a criminal family, really, but the owner of the local pub is mother to two somewhat dodgy sons. Trevor was the man who assaulted Tess, and is in prison for dealing drugs when the story begins; Joey now seems an upright family man, though Simone isn’t buying that for a second.
Their roots in the town run deep, and they’re not the kind of family that takes kindly to having the past dredged up by anyone. And each of the women is a threat: Simone’s book exposes their past, Hat knows enough about the law to use what they’ve done against them, and Tess? It seems she has her own plan to wipe the slate clean.
The questions will keep you guessing
One Night isn’t a traditional whodunnit, but there are a lot of questions begging for answers. Simone’s book might be her way to heal, but for everyone else it’s stirred up a very murky past – one that nobody seems able to agree on.
Worse, it’s a past that doesn’t want to stay buried. Trevor isn’t someone to let bygones be bygones, even if he’s locked up (for now); Tess’s older daughter befriends one of the new generation of local bad boys. And even if there was some way to find the truth about what happened that night, is it enough to heal the wounds the trio have been living with for 20 years?
*This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Paramount+. All episodes of * One Night * are now streaming only on Paramount+