Prime Suspect [1991]

In the first Prime Suspect, Helen Mirren's ballsy woman Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennyson battled the boys club and their sexist barbs to prove herself in a chauvinist department. In Prime Suspect 2, she's assigned to head a racially charged murder investigation in a largely African/Caribbean neighborhood. It's politics as usual in the image-conscious organization, so the superintendent adds to the team black Detective Robert Oswalde (Colin Salma), a sharp but hot-headed investigator who has just broken off an affair with Tennyson. Now Tennyson grapples with her own conflicted feelings while fighting political and public-relations battles both in the media and within the police system itself in the midst of investigating the labyrinthine case. Between the scant clues left to sift, a prime suspect on the verge of death himself, and divisions in her own team that result in a devastating death, Tennyson soon begins to suspect she's been hung out to dry by the department. Screenwriter Allan Cubitt dives into the murky waters of volatile racial and social relations to create an even more complex and compelling mystery in Tennyson's second appearance, and Mirren rises to the challenge to explore the contradictions of an uncompromising cop in a compromising position. --Sean Axmaker

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