With HBO miniseries Mare of Easttown, Kate Winslet delivers an award winning performance.
Staring: Kate Winslet, Julianne Nicholson, Jean Smart, Angourie Rice, David Denman and Guy Pearce
Creator: Brad Ingelsby
Directed by Craig Zobel
Mare of Easttown could have easily fallen through the cracks given just how many miniseries for television are being released by various streaming networks as well as cable TV. But, when the name of two-time Academy Award winning actress Kate Winslet is attached to a project, it commands attention. Though Kate Winslet has played several iconic roles that go beyond Rose from Titanic, she never did get a chance to play a detective throughout her splendid career. So, when the opportunity presented itself in the form of a slow-burning, seven-episode miniseries, she decided to take a crack at it and in doing so, once again, generated award buzz. We’re sold.
Set against a small town near Philadelphia, Mare (Kate Winslet) has been investigating the disappearance of a young girl for nearly a year. It leads to her and others around her wondering about her detective abilities. Afterall it is still a small town so everyone knows everyone and Mare is particularly famous because aside from being a detective, she won a basketball championship more than two decades ago.
But that’s just the surface. Within each episode lies a clue that is not only about the missing young girl but Mare’s life. And because Kate Winslet has delivered such a strong performance as Mare, you want to know where the series is headed and can she catch whomever is responsible?
Unlike other productions - fuelled by electrifying performances such as Sharp Objects featuring Amy Adams and True Detective featuring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson - Easttown is not depicted as a dilapidating town on the edge even with the premise that a girl has been missing. Easttown gets that one thing right from get-go.
As the mystery series that maintains an even pace throughout the seven episodes gradually continues, several reasons make it apparent as to why Mare is the way she is. Guy Pearce is the out-of-town stranger with whom Mare shares a connection. Pearce is actually very charming in this small role and echoes the chemistry the two actors first shared on Mildred Pierce many moons ago. However, more important than Guy Pearce within the context of the series is Mare’s best friend, Lori Ross. Essayed by Julianne Nicholson, she delivers an equally astonishing performance while caught between the devil and deep blue sea.
Relationships between mother and a daughter, a divorce, a lost life and the grief that followed but never quite dealt with are some of the underlying themes.
A great sensitivity is shown while showcasing issues of mental health. At the same time, the original question of who did it looms until an answer is found in this HBO production.
Staying away from usual tropes, the series doesn’t drag on but compels you to look forward to the next episode. The cinematography is wonderful; the supporting cast has played their parts with determination such as Jean Smart – who essays Mare’s mother - and Angourie Rice who essays her daughter.
Star-studded series are now being produced at a rapid speed but Mare of Easttown offers a plausible narrative and the human mistakes people can make. Not all is lost. There is sometimes a way back and if anything reinforces this idea, it is Mare of Easttown. Highly recommended! – MS
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
*** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection