In Monterey, the men are clueless and the women are mean.
While both may not be absolutely true all of the time… it’s close.
In the HBO adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s novel of the same name, five women fight and gossip about each other, assuming, deceiving, and corrupting as they go. But in the end, it comes down to whether or not they can fight off the evil that exists within their community, thanks to the abuse they hurl on each other and the abusiveness of one of the men in their circle.
What HBO captures is a reasonably intricate overlay of life stories and situations, exquisitely acted by some big names in entertainment, like Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, and Laura Dern. Rounding out the other major players in the show are Zoe Kravitz, Adam Scott, Alexander Skarsgard, Jeffrey Nordling, and James Tupper, with the men playing the roles of different women’s husbands.
With a screenplay adapted by David E. Kelley (Picket Fences, Chicago Hope, The Practice, Ally McBeal, Boston Public, Boston Legal) and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club, Wild), the show has top shelf production values for each of its seven episodes. The script is slick and quick moving, as the woman form up ‘sides’ based on an accusation of abuse by one of their children against another.
Told almost entirely as a flashback, we know that a man lies dead and the police are investigating; we know that the average, non-major players in the town can’t stand the warring sides of this group. We know that lies, affairs, and violence have broken their hearts. In the process of the series, we understand what makes them tick, and in true fashion, one incredible act will be required to bring them together.
Big Little Lies isn’t for the faint of heart – it made me quite squeamish in its display of abuse. Sex is ultimately a power play for many of the couples (if not all), and the substance of it leaves one thing primarily lacking – love. It’s in the conclusion that we see the love, the thing that binds them together, in an unexpected way. I’d tell you what it is – but that would just be wrong.
Big Little Lies is available on Digital HD now.