Louise Lombard and David Wenham in Dripping in Chocolate.
Brad Newsome, The Age, reports
Pay TV show of the week: Dripping in Chocolate, UKTV, Saturday, 8.30pm
David Wenham stars opposite Louise Lombard (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) in this agreeable romantic-thriller telemovie set in Sydney.
It all begins at night in very atmospheric, noirish style. Chocolatier Juliana Lovece (Lombard) seems almost to be in a sensuous rapture as she stirs and swirls her way through making a new batch of chocolates alone in her little shop. Outside, the rain is pouring on the streets of The Rocks as a blonde in red shoes enjoys a chocolate of her own. But the blonde is about to meet a sticky end, setting the story in train.
The detective who catches the case of the mysterious chocolate-eating blonde is one Bennett O'Mara (Wenham), a slightly rumpled sort who, we quickly learn, is forcing himself to ''detox'' from grog and greasy food. O'Mara is helped and hindered by younger colleagues Riley (Chelsie Preston-Crayford, who played Tilly Devine in Underbelly: Razor) and Carl (Rick Donald).
The investigation soon begins to point to state Planning Minister Stuart Verger (Geoff Morrell), who has been cheating on his wife (Caroline Brazier, Morrell's real-life wife). But when Verger turns up dead - briefly casting suspicion on Juliana - O'Mara has to look elsewhere for suspects. There's no shortage: Juliana's cocky boyfriend, a shut-in weirdo and a dodgy psychiatrist who seems to know everybody involved.
The telemovie, created by producers Sarah Smith and Julie McGauran, has its moments. Wenham and Lombard are terrific and the beautifully filmed chocolate-making sequences would set Nigella Lawson aquiver.
It's a clever story, well plotted with a few red herrings and a decent twist. But it doesn't engage or satisfy quite as well as it might. Part of the problem might be with the police characters. They don't talk with the laconic authenticity of top-drawer Australian police shows such as Phoenix. And some seem more dumb-cop stereotype than characters - Carl, for one, seems slow on the uptake for a presumed graduate of detective training school.
O'Mara is the one cop for whom writers Sarah Smith and John Ridley provide plenty of backstory and foibles but there are times you wish they had not. His dog needs a knee reconstruction but, instead, O'Mara goes and buys a ''natural'' remedy from a friend, apparently a drug dealer, and injects it into the dog. Really?
There's also an odd kind of atmospheric disjunct between the more romantic sequences and the workaday police-procedural ones - and between most of the movie and a sudden lurch into slasher-thriller territory towards the end.
All that said, it's a good yarn and a decent way to spend a few hours on a quiet Saturday night in. Wenham, as ever, is wonderful, while Lombard is a treat as well.