OLIVE KITTERIDGE - HBO DemandNovember 07, 2014
On Demand Weekly provides new reviews of hot movies and shows on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: “OLIVE KITTERIDGE.”
Prickly as a hedgehog. Those are words you could use to describe Olive Kitteridge. Warm, fuzzy, likable are NOT. She is feisty, crabby and does not suffer fools (which she considers most people to be).Yet as played with fierce intelligence and indomitable will by the amazing Frances McDormand, you can understand why her husband adores her and her son admires her. With McDormand’s incandescent blue eyes, incredible cheekbones, and earthy New England accent, it’s as if Katharine Hepburn were playing the Henry Fonda part in ON GOLDEN POND.
It is difficult to be the smartest person in the room, depressing even. Perhaps that is why Olive thinks depression runs in her family. She thinks it’s good to be depressed as it is a sign of intelligence. She never stops to think about how her depression plays out as anger towards everyone in her path, damaging with a scornful look or scathing word.
Frances McDormand, Unknown, Richard Jenkins, OLIVE KITTERIDGE (HBO)
John Gallagher, Jr., is very good as the Kitteridge’s wounded but resilient son. Richard Jenkins is superb as Olive’s long-suffering husband, Henry, who remains...
...attracted to her intelligence
even as she uses it as a weapon against him.
He is not her intellectual equal, but he is a kind, generous, loving soul who rarely fights back. When he starts working with Denise Thibodeau (Zoe Kazan), her fragile, doe-like open heart is like refreshing spring water to poor Henry’s parched heart. Their relationship is lovely. It borders on sexual attraction, without ever crossing the line from safely chaste. It’s no wonder Olive bristles every time she sees that Denise gives Henry what she can’t: someone to take care of.
Olive has her own unrequited affair of the heart with the hard drinking, smoking, poetry-quoting, fellow teacher, Jim O’Casey, (Peter Mullan-excellent as usual) which comes to a tragic end when he teaches the ultimate lesson in why one shouldn’t drink and drive.
Full of such small, tragic moments, along with moments that should be happy but somehow aren’t, is the delicate tale of Olive Kitteridge: the story of a no nonsense woman living in a world that baffles even her sharp mind. She wants to feel a connection but has no idea how to give that part of her that allows that connection. And the not knowing frustrates her because it insults her intelligence. It is the rare person in her life that can call her on it. By the time that person comes in in the form of Bill Murray’s Jack Kennison, we can only hope that Olive is slightly ready to thaw.
Bill Murray, OLIVE KITTERIDGE (HBO)
There is not a single false note in HBO’s Olive Kitteridge. Every small part is perfectly played. The makeup, hair, and costuming age Frances McDormand in a beautifully subtle way, and the sets and location are correct to the periods and add a richness of detail that shines.
Peter Mullen, OLIVE KITTERIDGE (HBO)
Apparently the extraordinary attention to detail is due to Frances McDormand who optioned Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel and worked out each moment and detail to the crisp perfection of an apple on a fall day.
Much like the people in Olive Kitteridge’s life, you will find yourself touched in a very unsentimental way by Olive Kitteridge. Available on HBO OnDemand.
Jean Tait is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. Currently the Director of Programming for the Connecticut Film Festival, Jean has programmed for the Jacksonville Film Festival and Sundance Channel.
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