Mare of Easttown from Craig Zobel is a solid murder mystery powered by a wonderfully layered script and terrific performances. Happening within the city of Easttown, the story distracts you very smartly and manages to do the extremely tough task of hiding the mystery. With the subplots that humanize the characters very deeply, how everything unfolds in this 7 episode limited series is a captivating experience.
Mare is a detective in the local police department, and she is going through a rough patch in her life. Her son committed suicide in the recent past, and she hasn’t really moved on from it. She is a divorcee. And there is a woman missing case that she couldn’t solve for almost a year now. In the midst of all this, a murder happens, and it was a teenage mother. Mare, who is familiar with everyone in the town, is in charge of the investigation and what we see in the series is her process along with the personal battles.
So the story’s basic structure has two layers: the murder investigation and the personal life of Mare. The ultimate end result of this suspense thriller merges these two layers in an unprecedented way. I loved the writing because it maintained the intrigue factor despite slipping into the vulnerable moments of the pool of characters it has. It was that particular case where the solution looked easy initially but became clearer and emotionally complicated as facts started to get unveiled. It was really interesting how something we would consider as a subplot to show someone’s inner strength becomes a major clue to understanding the real culprit.
Humanising the characters is one thing that has been done brilliantly in this series. Brad Ingelsby, the writer and creator of the show, manages to give enough space to the character pool that their personal battles are vivid in our heads while we process the whole plot. The thriller aspect is more like peripheral attire. Deep down, the series is a compelling drama driven by characters. Even when the series shows us these possible suspects, it uses that deviation to show us that person in a closer way. Respecting the intelligence and their demand for freshness is key for a thriller to work, and I think Ingelsby and the team have done a remarkable job in making sure that it isn’t similar to any other story.
What we predict as the possible end or whom we believe as the likely culprit gets presented at an early stage, and this way of ruling out the predictions of the viewer at an early stage makes it very exciting. Somewhere the story is also about this city named Easttown, and by the time you reach those last episodes, you get this feeling of being transported to that environment and culture. Empathy becomes a key element of the script as it becomes tough for us to judge certain actions of key characters. Mare is trying to keep the custody of her grandson, Carrie is fighting with her addiction, Lori is trying her best to protect her family, Siobhan is struggling to get closure for the demise of her brother, and so many emotional tracks are here. What it does to the series is that it makes us think beyond the mere whodunit element and understand those characters and their complicated realities.
Kate Winslet is terrific playing Mare. The character is flawed, and she portrays that transformation really well. The toughness of Mare due to all the past experiences feels believable in the way she carries this character. Julianne Nicholson plays the role of Mare’s bestie Lori, and there are moments in the series that need to depict the strength of that character without being loud, and she was fabulous. Jean Smart as the quarreling mother of Mare was memorable, and so was Angourie Rice as Mare’s daughter Siobhan. Evan Peters, as detective Colin Zabel, portrayed the naivety of a new detective really nicely.
The ability of Mare of Easttown to rise beyond the mystery-solving nature of a thriller and make us think about all those people who got affected by the repercussions of a tragic event is what makes it a great show. With solid technical support and a diverse range of characters, this Kate Winslet starrer is easily a must-watch.
With the subplots that humanize the characters very deeply, how everything unfolds in this 7 episode limited series is a captivating experience.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended