One Show that Asks a Lot
Olive Kitteridge was a pleasant (and much needed) change from shows about psychotic drug lords, super geniuses with personality disorders, heroics of superhumans and fantasy throne disputes. The show caught my attention after it dominated the Emmys on the year of its airing. It's a four episode long series, and won a ton of awards and as it's from HBO, I had no regrets.
The miniseries, based on Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer-winning novel of the same name is a four-hour story that portrays four different phases of the protagonist Olive's (Frances McDormand) life. Each phase brilliantly depicts the lives of the seemingly common folk, paints for us the minds of people we don't quite understand and tells the tale of complicated human relations, the interests, miseries and sudden attraction to life of the old and depressed.
The show's greatest asset is its effortless storytelling, to make stories of ordinary people interesting, to make us pay attention to details we are so used to overlooking. The story takes place in a mundane coastal town in Maine. We find our protagonist as a rude wife, a strict teacher, an uncompromising mother, highly judgmental to anybody around her and just too harsh to sympathise with. On the other hand, her husband Henry (Richard Jenkins), who's also an important character, is just the opposite - a sweet, forgiving and an apparently gullible soul. The story revolves around these two but only uses their relationship of ups and downs as a tool to show the greater elements of human nature. As the show progresses we discover Olive as a troubled soul, helping out the ignored and those she can relate to, who wears the harshness as a shell. But the story also lets us question the effectiveness of such misleading expression of character. As the story leaps past a few decades, Olive's grown up son Christopher (John Gallagher Jr.) suffers from mental stress and blames it on the strictness of his mother. Though Olive claims her intentions were never cruel, the effect nevertheless leads to tragedies in her later life.
And in her later life she encounters affection for the one thing she couldn't wait to let go of - life. Scarred by the untimely suicide of her father, Olive had a firm belief that she too had a case of depression and one day will follow her father's path.
The grimness in the plot is not necessarily what the show comprises of. The subtlest of crude remarks, dumbfound faces after straight out insults and also, a cameo from Bill Murray makes way for effortless comic relief. Also the relatable characters help the viewer to indulge more into the story. And after the end of a four hour journey through the life of Olive Kitteridge, basic questions involuntarily arise, like how acceptable is our behaviour with the people around us, in the blindness of greater motives do we push away our close ones, are we grateful enough to our parents, are our influence to the world around us too meagre to last with time and if we are good people.
Fatiul Huq Sujoy is a tired soul (mostly because of his frail body) who's patiently waiting for Hagrid to appear and tell him, "Ye're a saiyan, lord commander." Suggest him places to travel and food-ventures to take at fb.com/SyedSujoy