Mare of Easttown
Reuniting ten years after their Emmy winning turns in Mildred Pierce, Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce return to the small screen in HBO’s Mare of Easttown. A murder shocks the local community and opens raw wounds in the process. As detective Mare Sheehan (Winslet) investigates, her home life crumbles around her. The series explores how past tragedies can define our present.
It’s obvious and unsurprising that this hotly anticipated production has been gifted a hefty budget – not least in securing such a high calibre cast but also in the overall look and feel of the show. The cinematography is exquisite and complements the stunning, atmospheric location of Pennsylvania. But beneath the alluring aesthetics, is there enough to hold our interest in what is becoming an increasingly occupied world of online content?
Brad Ingelsby’s sharp writing coupled with the lead’s weighty performance allows episode one to serve as an exemplary way to establish a central character. We know exactly who the protagonist is within only a few scenes – her flaws making her even more engaging. This is a cop worn down by the job. Coming over as deflated and uninspired, it’s apparent that an unsolved missing person case still plagues her. The fact that the mother of the victim vehemently blames Mare and the local police for failing to find her daughter after a year is evidently taking its toll. With every urgent inhale of her vape, Winslet conveys a multitude of deep-rooted emotions that are endeavouring to climb their way to the surface. This is a complex character we immediately invest in and want to follow.
Winslet sets a high benchmark and the other performances deliver with the lead expectedly enjoying effortless chemistry with Pearce, who portrays a creative writing lecturer new in town. The always impressive Evan Peters is another outsider as a detective called in to help, much to Mare’s vexation. The supporting cast are all successful in inaugurating the feel of a tight-knit community – where everyone knows everyone’s business – prompting us to question who might be hiding what and just how dark the underbelly of this sleepy town might be. The minutia of small-town America almost seeps out of the screen – its intricate detail interesting at first, but it’s not long before audiences are questioning just when something big might happen. This cannot come soon enough and eventually arrives just before the closing credits.
If episode one is all about set-up, the second certainly amps things up a tad, although we still find ourselves meandering through an overpopulated cast of characters. Much like the detectives of the series, audiences need a note pad to jot down names. We are inundated with information and people and not permitted enough time to get to know and therefore care about them before our attention is diverted elsewhere.
This reviewer watched the first two episodes and there is a lot to digest here. Hopefully as the show progresses the audience will be offered some breathing space so characters can be cultivated and the various story strands developed. Winslet and Pearce would not have signed on to anything they didn’t believe in and their portrayals along with the script make this an intriguing, if slow-burning, watch that does require a degree of patience. Part police show, part domestic drama, its identity might be slightly unclear but one thing without question is its promising potential.
Mare of Easttown is released on Sky on 18th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for Mare of Easttown here: