Director Craig Zobel creates a visceral texture for Easttown, mirroring the authenticity without condescension of Winslet’s performance. The houses are ordinary and middle-class, not new but not poverty porn. The characters are beleaguered but exude the sense of thinking that’s life.
Outsiders don’t fit neatly into the series any more than they do in the town, though. Guy Pearce adds a touch of sophistication as a creative writing teacher at a local college. The character seems parachuted in to add romantic interest.
Evan Peters, far from his roles as Pietro in Wandavision and Quicksilver in the X-Men movies, arrives as a county detective sent to Easttown to help with the murder investigation. Together he and Mare question the local priest, who happens to be her cousin. “Anybody you’re not related to?” he asks. “No,” she says. It’s their best moment. Otherwise, Peters’ character is so generic he could have been played by almost anyone.
In the fifth episode, the last available for review of the season’s seven, one of the investigations leads to high drama and action. Whatever happens in the episodes to come, at its heart Mare of Easttown is the story of a fierce, ordinary heroine, beautifully played. No fright wigs, no prosthetics. No need.
Mare of Easttown premieres on 18 April on HBO Max in the US and on 19 April on Sky Atlantic/Now TV in the UK.
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