Justine Pearce (Ella Lilly-Hyland) is a teenage tennis prodigy on the cusp of winning her first major tournament at the start of Prime Video drama Fifteen-Love. She gets fired up by her charismatic coach, Glenn Lapthorn (Aidan Turner), and takes to the court after trying to kiss him. However, a severe wrist injury costs her the match and her career. Five years later, Justine works as a physiotherapist at an elite tennis academy while Glenn coaches a tennis champion. But when he reappears in her life after taking a high-up position in the school, old wounds are reopened, which cause Justine to walk into a police station and accuse Glenn of sexually abusing her when he was her coach.
Despite the serious allegations, writer Hania Elkington peppers the opening episodes with enough information for viewers to doubt Justine’s side of the story. Not only is there an overwhelming lack of evidence to support her claim (not even her close friends were aware that anything happened), but Justine comes across as deeply unlikeable at times. Whether her rage and self-loathing stems from years of frustration about the end of her career or, as Glenn tells the police, is rooted in vindictive jealousy towards him, though, soon becomes the mini-series’ main focus.
Hyland is sensational in her breakout role. While Justine has no shortage of faults, which her friends are quick to call her out on, Hyland’s performance imbues the character with enough humanity for viewers to grasp where her pain comes from. Turner, too, gives a strong turn in the series, with the show being at its finest whenever the pair go toe-to-toe together onscreen.
However, the story is quick to give away its secrets at the end of the second episode. With all doubt gone, the script uses its non-linear storytelling to fill in the gaps to show what exactly transpired between the pair those years ago. Meanwhile, the present-day narrative branches out into a handful of different directions, one of which centres around another up-and-coming tennis star (Maria Almeida), who’s going through something similar to what Justine did.
While Hyland and Turner give standout turns, the pair aren’t enough to continue the momentum after the game is given away early. With the intrigue gone, Fifteen-Love is like watching a long-winded tennis match that’s lacking in thrills and excitement.
Fifteen-Love is released on Prime Video on 21st July 2023.
Watch the trailer for Fifteen-Love here: