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Josh Reviews Mare of Easttown

November 1st, 2021

Soon after watching The Queen’s Gambit, I moved on to enjoy another magnificent seven-hour TV miniseries: Mare of Easttown.  I think I liked this even more than The Queen’s Gambit!  The series was written by Brad Ingelsby (who has written the screenplays for a number of films, including Out of the Furnace and The Way Back) and directed by Craig Zobel (who, among his other directing credits, directed the “International Assassin” episode of The Leftovers!!).  It stars Kate Winslet as the titular Mare.  Mare is famous in her close-knit small town because she scored the winning point in a high school basketball championship game 25 years earlier.  Now she works as a police detective.  But her life is a mess, she’s been unable to solve a year-old case of a missing teenaged girl (the daughter of one of her friends, no less), and now another teenage girl has been found murdered.

I adored this series.  I was immediately captivated by Kate Winslet’s performance.  There are a lot of tremendous actors on this show, but Mare of Easttown rests on Kate Winslet’s performance, just as The Queen’s Gambit rested on Anya Taylor-Joy’s.  It is an absolute joy to watch Ms. Winslet’s work in this series.  Is there any doubt that she is one of the best actors working today?  She brings such richness and nuance to her work as Mare.  I grew to love and root for Mare over these seven episodes; she’s the hero of the show and I was invested in her journey.  But what makes this so compelling is the way Ms. Winslet (and the wonderful script by Brad Ingelsby) presents Mare as such a fully-realized, flawed human being.  She’s bad-tempered and stubborn and she drinks a lot and eats junk and I loved her all the more for all of that.  Once again, this well-made mini-series format is perfect for telling this type of story, because we get to spend so much more time with Mare over the course of this seven-hour series than we could in a two-ish hour feature film.  Ms. Winslet fully commits to this role, and the result is an extremely memorable, affecting performance.  (Ms. Winslet also fully commits to Mare’s very specific accent.  I can’t really speak to how accurate that accent is or isn’t, but I was impressed by how completely Ms. Winslet was able to inhabit that accent.  As my wife knows, I quickly became completely obsessed by how Ms. Winslet — and the other actors on the show — pronounced the “o” in “home”…)

One of the most compelling aspects of the show is how we gradually learn how interconnected the characters and families of … [continued]