April 14, 2024

LOVE & DEATH (2023) – Olsen is brilliant in another tale of a small-town murder

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Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This is yet another mini-series based on a true story of a gruesome murder in America that took place in the 1980’s. Somehow all these terrible murders seem to happen in small towns and often in Texas! This story apparently has been adapted into a TV series as recently as last year, with HULU’s Candy starring Jessica Biel and a television movie “A Killing In A Small Town” in 1990. As I have not seen either of these previous adaptations, I have nothing to compare and approach this latest interpretation without any preconceived opinion or knowledge of what to expect. This is probably the best way to watch this as the less you know about the case the better to sustain some element of surprise to the outcome.

Elizabeth Olsen shows us what an excellent first class actress she is as Candy Montgomery, a small-town church going housewife who seemingly have everything in terms of a loving husband, and family. However, beneath the surface of this charming and friendly person is someone who is bored with her life, and she chose to have an affair with a fellow church going guy who’s wife happens to be Candy’s close friend. The affair starts off innocently enough with both parties setting rules that ensure they do not fall in love with each other and hurt their respective families. Naturally things eventually go terribly wrong cumulating in a brutal murder. Academy Award nominee Jesse Plemons plays the lover Allan Gore with an understatement creating a simple character that is unique yet believable.

The series takes its time in telling its tale devoting the first few episodes on the affair and the latter episodes on the court case that followed the killing. This slow burn approach may alienate many viewers who are impatient, but I thought they were well paced and contributed to providing a solid foundation for the court case drama that unfolded in the later episodes. The linear approach in relating the story in a chronological order also helped made the story flow much more effectively than the often-used technique to interlace multiple timelines with flashbacks. The first portion and second portion of the series felt quite different in tone, with the initial part focus on the affair while the latter half was more like a riveting court case drama.

The acting is superb, the story is gripping, and the outcome may be expected but contentious. Love and Death is yet another fascinating true life crime drama that translates well into TV entertainment.

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