filmreview

Perfect Life is Perfect Lie [“Big Little Lies” review]

20th of May, 2017

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Life of parents is not as easy as it sounds. Especially when it’s about the race of rats between them about who has smarter kid. And it’s even harder when, during this race, there is a murder involved. Who is killed? How did it happen? Is everybody lying over and over? And most importantly – who’s the killer?

New mini TV series made by HBO, written by David E. Kelley and directed by amazing Jean-Marc Vallée surprises the viewers from the very beginning. That’s not weird, because the book which inspired the production is written the same way. We get the history of three friends – Madeline, Celeste and Jane along with their problems and struggles of the daily life. In the same time, we listen to testimony of the witnesses of the murder (murder happened on the integration evening, by the way). The past is mixing with the present, but don’t worry, you’ll not get lost. In contrary, actually. You will not want to stop watching it.

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Madeline Mackenzie is the bravest one. She will not pause to tell someone the truth. She gossips too, but somehow the viewers love her. In the same time, Madeline is extremely loyal to her two friends. There is neither jelousy nor rivalry betweem them three. They don’t fight over kids or husbands. In my opinion, Madeline is the portrayal of a little crazy, but very good female friend. As the culture, especially film and TV production suffer from lack of the true portrayals of female friendships, Big Little Lies will show amazing feminine bond. Madeline has two kids – Chloe and Abigail from the first marriage. Woman struggles with the hate towards new wife of her ex husband Nathan and the rebellion from her daughter. Episode after episode the viewers see how complex her character is. I think this is definitely merit of amazing Reese Whiterspoon who played her role.

Celeste is the quietest one.  She’s very beautiful, calm woman with two twins and loving husband everybody envies her. The viewer finds out she finished law studies, but she abandoned the career to have children. Her husband, Perry, supports the family. Wrigths are very rich, but hold very dark secret deep in the shades of their luxurious life. Perry abuses Celeste and she is very recluctant about leaving him. As an excuse, she picks raising twins, Max and Josh. Celeste doesn’t share the secret with her friends, because she doesn’t want them to know about that. Nicole Kidman, who played Celeste, was incroyable in the role and very authentic.

Jane is the mysterious one. No one knows where did she come from. Single mother with a son, Ziggy, moves to Monterey to sign him up to the school where all the kids go along with Madeline’s and Celeste’s. Jane is very young and extremely mysterous. She’s different from other mothers, too. She doesn’t care about beautiful clothes or newest gadgets. Madeline and Celeste take her under care, try to introduce to everyone. Jane slowly opens up to them and soon, they find out about horrible thing that happend in her past. She was raped. Shailene Woodley, known from The Fault in Our Stars was the perfect choice for Jane’s character.

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Everything happens quickly after the meeting at school. Amabella, daugher of very succesful Renata Klein (amazing Laura Dern) accuses Ziggy of choking her. In fact, she does have marks on the neck. Nothing is the same after. It’s as if young boy had been marked and no one can play with him anymore. But the true fight is not amongst children, it’s amongst parents. Madeline, trying to protect Jane, manifestly opens up the fire. The fight affects children who don’t even remember about previous events. But hurting young Amabella keeps happening. Ziggy seems to know who is that, but he doesn’t want to say. When all three fight with Renata and her supporters, all of them has their own stuff to solve. Madeline tries to reconcile with Abigail’s moving out to her father, Celeste fights with her husband who abuses her and Jane helps Ziggy in the same time trying to help herself with the past.

The viewers know from the beginning that someone has been killed. Creators show them the path leading to murder. Events are escalating episode by episode. Every next one is more intense and brutal. Jean-Marc Vallée showed the whole palette of characters’ feelings by proximity scenes and scenes of details. The huge part plays the ocean too – at its example, we can see how human’s personality works: sometimes it’s calmed as smooth waves, but next it can be very dangerous, very brutal as abusive partner. The director was the jackpot. Beautiful scenes composed with wisely selected music (e.g. Elvis Presley, Michael Kiwanuka, Jeffersons Airplane etc.) created brave, sometimes sad portrayal of modern parents, but also murder, abusive relationships, lies. And gossips.

Jackie: Not that there’s a right little girl to strangle, but [Ziggy] picked the wrong little girl to strangle.

Harper: Jane just didn’t fit here, kind of like a dirty old Prius parked outside of Barney’s.

Dr. Chang: There was a 4×3 full thickness scalp laceration located on the superior occipital portion of the scalp. We also discovered a full thickness scalp contusion and associated subgaleal hemorrhages and a putrified and liquified brain.
Stu: So it was a lot of blood.

Madeline: To be accused of something so horrible on your very first day at a new school. Can you imagine anything worse?

On the Big Little Lies we can see that gossips are not only teenagers’ thing to do. It’s getting worse with age. TV series presents how lies work. Everybody tries to create perfect life, in the same time talking about other known people, very often in a negative way. After a time, they start to believe in their own lies. And it’s dangerous.

Except mentioned trio plus amazing Laura Dern, fans can also see Zoë Kravitz as Bonnie, Alexander Skarsgård as Perry , James Tupper as Nathan, Adam Scott as Ed etc. As we can see, the cast was very wisely selected. And well, they were completely right to choose such talented actors. They made characters even more complex.

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The most amazing and shocking scene of Big Little Lies when Jane looks into her past’s eyes and Madeline slowly realizes what is going on… 

The last episode of Big Little Lies left me with cover of You Can’t Always Get What You Want  and mouth agape. I had million questions and even mote thoughts in my head. Is it really how adulthood looks like? Like mother/fatherhood is? Is really everybody lying, trying to create a fake life? Who do I truly know in my life?

One is sure. Big Little Lies and the cast deserves every applause. I did not expect such a good show (I guess blame the title), but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s only eight episodes, hopefully it will be more, but it leaves you with shock. I highly recommend.

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Remember My Words. Forget My Name.

23th of September, 2016

The title is actually a quote. Those are words of Aurora Luft – one of the main characters in Canadian/Hungarian tv show called “X Company”. You don’t know this show? Well, that’s a shame, but I’m coming with the review of this production, so you would know if you liked it. Let’s get started.

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“X Company” tells us the story of five people who are trained and prepared to serve during the World War II as secret agents for the Canadian  facility in Ontario. After the training they are supposed to be sent to the field and complete different missions. It is a spy thriller series, created by Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern.

There had been two seasons of the show by far. Third and in the same time last season is gonna air around February 2017. As the creators say, the project was in their minds for a long time. They finally could produce  what they’ve dreamed of. And I can tell you one thing. They did it good.

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What are the opinions? Different. Some people say that the historic facts are messed up. Other say that the show is good. Denette Wilford from Huffington Post said that X Company is another history lesson CBC is offering audiences, and it nails it once again. I’m not gonna say whether I agree with it or not. I am not historician either and I can’t point exactly what facts may or may not be truth. The one thing is for sure – Camp X existed in a real life and I don’t need anything else.

Someone may be upset with me and not agree with me. Well, if the show is so good, I don’t care if one thing may not be exactly true. Besides, iny my opinion in this show is more about human relationships during the World War II other than exact historic events.

Aurora Luft. Alfred Graves. Neil Mackay. Harry James. Tom Cummings. Five people and they have one target – sabotage of as many Nazi’s plans of destroying the world as they all can do. Spies take the orders from Duncan Sinclair, the leader of Camp X in Ontario. They communicate each other by Morse code through the stations with iambic paddle. The master of it is Harry James, the youngest of all. The leader of the group is Aurora Luft – half Jewish half German young woman. She was journalist at the time when Germans took France. She immidiately organizes a group of Resistance fighters. She knows she’s not gonna let Germans take her land just like that.

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She’s an excellent leader. And here we have another thing I need to talk about. How media changed their attidute towards women’s roles. There she is, a female leader. She’s in charge of four other fighters, four men and she is amazing at it. Aurora is smart, Aurora has a strong sense of intuition and the most important – she knows what she does.

I could not not mention amazing character – Alfred. The man joins the group only because of one reason. He has super intelligence and memory. He can only look at something once and he remembers. That’s why he is deathly weapon for Germans. In the same time as he works with others, he needs to be protected. Aurora is told not to let Germans take him alive. It’s getting harder and harder, because young woman find strong feelings towards him.

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Their relationship is really strong. In the same time though, Aurora always tries to treat all friends equally, so at one point, she is really torn apart.

We also have Tom, Neil and Harry. Tom and Neil are very good friends. They know each other very well, they are loyal and respectful towards Aurora. The same goes with Harry. Although he has rebellious moments , he knows that the woman is a great leader.

As I’m talking about the characters I also have to mention the actors who did and do amazing job, bringing the history back again. Evelyne Brochu, Warren Brown, Jack Laskey, Connor Price and Dustin Milligan are doing amazing job, creating characters all fans adore and support. When we look at the pictures behind the scenes, we also see how close all of them are. It’s really important for actors to be friends, because then characters are real.

As I said at the beginning, “X Company” circulates around the World War II. It is about five spies who complete missions, sabotage Germans and fight for their country. But in the same time you see their connections. Their closeness. Their personal struggles. You see how Tom is apart with his love. How Harry falls in love and is in pain. How Alfred is scared because he hates gun shots and gun, but he has to fight it in order to serve the country. You see how Aurora has to cope with loss and how she has to gain the trust of someone who could be best friend, but she can’t be friends with them. And you notice that all of them have problems, big problems. But all of them support each other.

Next to it, we witness horrible scenes from World War II. We see executing innocent men, because that’s what they had to do. We see how sometimes you need to kill someone who you love, so they could be safe, so they wouldn’t be in slavery. We see how strong you have to be after losing the best friend, in that moment you just need to pull yourself together and fight for your country.

To be honest, watching “X Company” was really personal for me. First thing is that I am Polish. As we all know, Poland was kicked down, beaten all the time, people from Poland were in concentration camps, they were executed. So watching this producion made me realize, made me appreaciate one more time what people from the past did for our future. In one or maybe two episodes there is Polish man who helps spies. I was watching and I was wondering what would I do if I lived in the times of World War II. Would I fight like them for my freedom? Would I be caught? Or would I just give up straight away?

I couldn’t answer on any of these question. I just appreciated my greatgrandfather one more time. Him and many other people.

Today “X Company” gets 8/10 stars. If you like drama, if you like spy thrillers and some history, this tv show is for you. Plus amazing cast and acting deserves audience and applause.

Farewell!

Zoshu