HBO continues to show that it is the go-to network for actresses over a certain age, providing them with some bravura roles.
Jean Harris could have easily descended into caricature and vapidness, but Bening finds her heart.
When I first saw that the film was being made (it was first made for television with Ellen Burstyn as Jean in 1980), I thought "why again?" but the filmmakers have proved their case: the film works on every level, but especially the performances. They are compulsively watchable.
Her performance is expertly modulated and as the film unwinds she becomes very human: her crime is not such a surprise and her motives seem justified.
The actresses interplay with Kingsley is a wonder to behold.
If you are a fan of singular acting, this will be worth your while.
Mary McDonnell, Philip Baker Hall, Brett Butler, Frances Fisher, Cloris Leachman and the original Harris, Burstyn, all show up for great cameos.
This is not a film you will ever see in a theater, HBO has cornered the market on interesting, vital character studies.