Big Little Lies,
Monday, Foxtel Showcase, 1.30pm and 3.30pm
Based on the best-selling novel by Australian author Liane Moriarty this version has been transplanted to Monterey, California.
A slick, fast-paced adaptation, it has been written by David E. Kelley – the man behind Ally McBeal, Picket Fences, The Practice and Chicago Hope and looks more like a reality show than a drama.
The action is dispersed by people (we haven’t met yet) talking about a murder that in the scheme of things, hasn’t happened yet.
These moments of “reality show” bites are meant to bring the story together and cleverly bring us into the story while creating mystery and yet all they seem to really do is distract from the main story.
This is the stuff of melodrama – working mothers and their stay-at-home counterparts and domineering husbands. Yet it still has something we don’t see enough on our screens – strong female roles.
The all-star cast is led by three women better-known for their movie careers – Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley.
Woodley, at 25, is the right age for her character but because she has played so many doomed teens of late, somehow she seems too young to have a five-year-old while Kidman also feels a touch out of place – although as the story unfolds, she starts to come into her own, with a beautiful understated performance.
But it’s Witherspoon who leads the ensemble in this seven-part mini-series.
Brash, over the top and just a touch overpowering against the more constrained performances, Witherspoon bulldozes her way onto the screen leaving you feeling exhausted every time she’s on screen. For all that this is still an interesting and absorbing tale.
– Tania Phillips