A look at a seemingly placid New England town that is actually wrought with illicit affairs, crime and tragedy, all told through the lens of Olive, whose wicked wit and harsh demeanor mask a warm but troubled heart and staunch moral center. The story spans 25 years and focuses on Olive's relationships with her husband, Henry, the good-hearted and kindly town pharmacist; their son, Christopher, who resents his mother's approach to parenting; and other members of their community.Written by
Psychological drama at times very uncomfortable to watch
Family dysfunction reigns supreme in this oft-uncomfortable psycho-drama set in bucolic Maine over the course of 25 recent years. Nice, gentle, middle-aged pharmacist and sensitive, caring man married to a hard=edged, stern and very often mean schoolteacher who knows she is sick and "a beast" but cannot change her hurtful and often hateful ways, even to her own son who is obviously more like his dad, a nice boy scarred forever by his mother's mean words and insensitive nature. Depression "runs" in her family, she said, and it is easy to spot throughout in her as she suffers progressively from it as the story develops.
Frances McDormand shines bright in her demanding role as the hard-as-nails wife and mother who finds it so hard to show love or even "like" to her family, and she is always more than ready with a scathing snipe no matter the occasion or person, even at their son's wedding. Richard Jenkins is also very impressive as her good guy husband who is always nice, friendly and comforting to those around him who need it most. His Yin to her Yang, totally.
Coastal Massachusetts scenery subbing for Maine is stunning and beautifully shot. The script, though excellent and always engrossing, is often discomforting to watch, as there is little levity in it and things often get very serious and mean-spirited. No everyman crowd-pleaser this one, but it is very intelligently done and packs a hard and lasting, dysfunctional family/mental health punch for viewers expecting more from premium channel TV than silly laughs and chuckles from junk programming. Not many laughs here, just quality storytelling you will not easily forget.
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