Lisey’s Story is the latest in the ever growing list of TV series and movies adapted from Stephen King bestsellers. Admittedly not all the adaptations had been satisfying but when they are they can be quite exceptional. With a stellar cast headed by Julianne Moore and Clive Owen, one cannot help getting a feeling this one is going to be a winner. Unfortunately Lisey’s Story came across for me as a bit uneven as its story was a bit hard to sink into.
Julianne Moore plays the wife of a famous novelist, Scott Landon, who dies under mysterious circumstances, leaving her behind to face the antics of a crazed obsessed fan. That sounds like a simple enough a plot to manage, but Lisey’s Story is laden with flash backs upon flash backs making the journey a bumpy one. In addition, there is the central theme that involves the existence of a mystical place called “Boo’ya Moon” which is like another world where only certain characters are mysteriously able to enter. This surreal and ethereal dimension may be the stuff of Stephen King novels but somehow under the context of this where much of the story appears to be firmly based on the “real world”, this comes across as a bit contrived. Since this other dimension is something that is not real or familiar to anyone else, the place feels like a convenient plot device for the story to steer in whatever direction and conclusion it desires without the need to satisfy any logic.
On the plus side, both Julianne Moore and Clive Owen are very watchable and their performances and presence elevates the series above the normal TV fare we get. The supporting characters are also interesting and well cast in particular, Lisey’s two sisters played by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Joan Allen, and the villain of the piece, Jim Dooley the stalker fan, played by Dane Dehaan. There were several stand out acts involving some violent and verbal confrontations between Lisey and Dooley that are classic Stephen King stuff. The quirky characters of Lisey’s sisters were also a delight to watch as they provide some level of uncertainty in terms of how the plot will flow because of their unpredictable behaviours, as well as much needed humour to an otherwise grim tale. The novelist Scott Landon’s background story initially seems very confusing but as the series progressed, things become clearer, and it is in fact quite a humdinger of a story! One needs to be patient and work through the episodes to appreciate this. Given the nature of how short the average attention span of people can be today, I will not surprised if this series lost a number of its viewers after the first two episodes.
All the episodes were directed by Pablo Larrain who is an accomplished director and producer from Chile. I can tell he has an eye for details and this clearly shows with the simple yet well defined sets throughout the series. So in fact subtly the scenes compliments the story well. We are lucky to have such a stylish and artistic cinematic touch to grace a TV series.
While Lisey’s Story is not going to go down as one of King’s better adaptations, it does have its fair share of nice King-ish moments which should please his fans. My main gripe is the fantastical world of “Boo’ya Moon”. I can’t help thinking if this whole aspect was removed, and we stuck firmly to the real world, Lisey’s Story may take on an even more horrific undertone given the dark history of its main character. This would then give emphasis on how the real world is where the real monsters reside.