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Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)
While each and every big name actor and actress in this film have had polarizing roles and performances in their filmography, for each and every one this show seems to be a quick reminder. A reminder to those who love their work why they are fans and for those who don’t get it, don’t understand all the hubbub about this actor or that actress, this will either be what turns you or what solidifies your opinion.
Jane (Shailene Woodley) | Celeste (Nicole Kidman) | Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) | Abigail (Kathryn Newton) | Renata (Laura Dern) | Ziggy (Iain Armitage) | Annabelle (Ivy George) | Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) | Nathan (James Tupper)
Someone has been murdered. However, it isn’t revealed who. Yet, with the focus being on a young single mother named Jane, who recently moved into the neighborhood; Madeline, who loves being at the center of any and all drama; and then Celeste, the enviable wife who, despite being past 40, has a loving, and younger husband, it is hard to say who was the one beaten over the head. Yet, in a town where everyone tries to be likable and friendly, but certainly keep some secrets held close, it is almost hard to believe someone can be driven to murder. Cattiness, gossip, maybe throwing a wine glass like they are on some reality show, that seems plausible. But outright murder, possibly not by accident? NO!
Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Being that Jane is but a part-time bookkeeper, with no husband, boyfriend, much less wife or girlfriend, how is she affording the house she lives in much less her son’s tuition? Also, did she leave where she was from to start a new life or run away from the old one?
- Why is it Madelina and her ex-husband Nathan divorced?
- Why did Celeste stop being a lawyer and decide to be a housewife?
- Who is this woman in blue we keep seeing in Jane’s flashbacks or could this be foreshadowing?
- Did Jane’s son Ziggy really hurt Renata’s daughter Annabelle or was it someone else?
Characters Which Seem Like More Than They Appear
While crafting a huge amount of likable characters should never be the goal of any show or movie, it is the easiest way to hook your audience. For crafting someone the audience loves to hate takes time and heaven knows creating sympathetic characters requires the right balance of fortitude and helplessness. So with characters like Madeline who seem to have a subconscious desire for confrontation, as if she has spent most of her life being pushed aside or ran over; characters like Renata who, while very successful in her career, contemplate the state of their personal and family life; and characters like Celeste who seem to have the perfect marriage to others, but perhaps such isn’t true behind closed doors, it is hard to not get hooked. If only because you see through the window of these almost impeccable facades and as you stare you can see the wallpaper peeling and what all the smiles, fashionable clothes and luxury cars are hiding.
The Mystery Element
While I dropped The Night Of, after the first episode, I feel the mystery element with this show is handled better. For while I am unsure of the tone and style of the book, I like how this sort of reminds me of the 90s or 80s mystery shows, if not modernly the shows of Shonda Rhimes, which start things telling you that something horrible happened. Then, from there, they introduce you to all possible suspects, make you like them, perhaps fall for them, and then, when you least expect it, have one of them stab you in the back.
The Maternal Connection
There is something about watching these women, from Woodley to Kidman and Dern, be with their kids, enjoy them, and have conversations with them. Whether it is Jane reassuring her son Ziggy she believes he didn’t hurt Renata’s kid or this touching, tear-inducing, conversation Madeline has with her teenaged daughter Abigail. It reminds you that being a mother isn’t just about the material stuff and trying to be the perfect mother. Sometimes it is just about being willing to get as vulnerable with your kid as you would someone who is your friend. Let them see the real you and ask them if they’d allow you to do so without judgment. For, like in Madeline’s case, with her daughter being close to the woman her father, Madeline’s ex, is with, it hurts. Not in a betrayal type of way, but it is already guaranteed you are going to lose your kids to friends and their own need for independence, but to lose them to someone who hurt you and the person who, passive, is taking part in that? It’s a blow below the belt.
Love At Any Age
Last thing worth noting, which I loved, was how Celeste was noted, and hated, for being a woman over 40 who didn’t have some dull marriage. She had one filled with kisses and affection, the envy of many of the women on the show, and I loved seeing that.
On The Fence
While Abigail has a sweet moment with Madeline, she is a teenager. The rest of the kids are around that period of being in the first grade and it is hard to tell if they are going to be an asset, liability, or if they maybe just a tool to start drama. Sort of like Ziggy being accused of hurting Annabelle and that maybe causing a rift between Jane and Renata. As well as Perry, Celeste’s husband, getting aggressive with her over the idea of playing off the incident and letting their children still interact with Ziggy.
Overall: Positive (Watch It)
Outside of how the children may be used, considering this is a show which HBO isn’t trying to drag out for more subscribers, I expect something which gets to the point, has enough drama and storylines to show why these notable actors secured their parts, and to be entertained.