‘Hold Tight’ Review: Harlan Coben’s Novel Gets A Gripping TV Adaptation

'Hold Tight' Review

Poland has been killing it lately when it comes to delivering quality content. In just the past few months, there have been a couple of Netflix shows that are proof that the country’s visual production is up to the international standard. So, seeing more and more TV and movies coming from Poland might be a constant from here on out.

This time, it comes down to another Harlan Coben adaptation. The first one was “The Woods” in 2020, and the success of that show was surely the reason we are now in front of Hold Tight. Which is an excellent mystery show with tons of characters and multiple plot lines that merge into a satisfying conclusion. The show might even give you the urge to pick up the books it is based on and continue the journey from there. 

Hold Tight is directed by Michal Gazda, and Bartosz Konopka. The series stars Magdalena Boczarska, Leszek Lichota, Krzysztof Oleksyn, Agnieszka Grochowska, Grzegorz Damiecki, Bartlomiej Topa, and many more. It tells the story of Adam, a young man who seems troubled by the death of his best friend, Igor. When Adam disappears from his home, his family starts looking for him, only to find that Adam might be involved in more than meets the eye. On top of that, a nefarious group of people keeps kidnapping women for some devious reason. How do all these plots connect? Well, you’ll have to see to find out. 

'Hold Tight' Review: Harlan Coben’s Novel Gets A Gripping TV Adaptation

Watching the show will not be a hard task. The pacing is fantastic, and you will flow from one episode to the next with extreme ease. The directors really knew how to adapt the multiple storylines into a web that just spreads and keeps the revelations coming at each new step. The developments are always meaningful and keep the story fresh, with ideas and themes being thrown at every second. 

Maybe some of the themes and ideas could have been developed better in the long run, but the show still feels substantial thanks to the ones that really managed to develop. Watching these upper middle class teens get into trouble really shows the dark side of these suburban environments. Nothing is ever as pretty as it seems, and everybody keeps secrets in order to protect themselves from pain. 

A plot involving bullying and a kid trying to find an exit from that pain is central to the whole affair on a thematic level. The same things this kid is feeling are also being felt in the same way by teens and adults. There is a serious misunderstanding of how to deal with grief and guilt. These feelings are an intrinsic part of being human. Nevertheless, it seems that we can only mismanage them into something ugly and hurtful.

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The cast of actors does a very good job of expressing these feelings as the more plotted elements keep evolving into something that is more dark and reliant on the tropes of the genre. Because of it, some of the later developments are somehow predictable. However, they manage to be satisfying because our minds already know that this is the way to go. Any other outcome would feel like it was done for shock value sake, and that just would not be good storytelling.

Magdalena Boczarska comes off as the stand-out actor in the cast. Her role as a mother ready to do anything to help her is believable, and even when things get heated, the show sets up her character as capable enough to come out of some very dangerous situations. Agata Labno also manages to make a very good impression as Kaja, Adam’s girlfriend, who goes beyond her duty to reveal the truth about what is truly happening in her circle of friends. 

If there’s something that could be annoying, it’s that the B plot never really manages to come together until way past the middle point of the show. And so, the time spent with those characters and that storyline might feel a bit undercooked. This plot is important, of course, but for most of the show you will be wondering what’s the point of it all is. 

Visually, the series doesn’t really break from the comfort of European television, opting to go for a lot of handheld shots and more naturalistic and cold cinematography. It paints a perfect picture of this side of the world, but also makes all the shows produced in this area look almost the same. More experimentation when it comes to the presentation of these series should be the next step.

Hold Tight is a very solid series. It boasts a very good mystery, great acting, and the filmmaking is good enough to hold interest for the entire six episodes of its run. The ending is satisfying and, of course, the series leaves things open to keep exploring Poland through the eyes of Coben’s characters. 

Score: 8/10

  • Nelson loves all things related to storytelling. He has spent most of his life studying narrative, applied across all mediums; film, TV, books, and video games. Mulholland Drive is his favorite film.