By: Katherine Naylor
Big Little Lies is a mini-series worth watching, and discussing. Following the lives of five families, the high-drama, murder mystery tells the truth of “perfect” families living in Monterrey, California. Each family has a stereotype, in which the mother of the household is high-sensitive and aware. Yet, the power of the mini-series is that each of the families tells a the true story behind these polished families.
image from source
Warning Spoilers Ahead
First, there is Madeline, played by Reese-Witherspoon who is the glorified bully of the town, constantly controlling everyone around her. Yet, she is secretly having an affair with the town’s local theater director. Her character proves that behind everyone, is a closed door of demons.
Yet, her personal struggle is small compared to the one of young, single mother Jane, played by Shailene Woodley, who was raped in a hotel room six years ago. In fast-paced, quick cut montages, the director, Jean Marc Valle, shows the post-traumatic effects of rape for its victims. These montages leave the audience feeling unsettled, confused and frightened, just as Jane feels every day of her life.
As Jane struggles with a demon from her past, Celeste, played by Nichole Kiddman, struggles with a demon in her own home: her physically abusive husband. The two of them fight, and then engage in violently raged sex. They both know that there is relationship is unhealthy, but they try to tell themselves that out of their hatred and rage is true passion. Her story shows the struggle of loving an abuser. As one reviewer says: “Kidman has a different gift: she can wear a mask and simultaneously let you feel what it’s like to hide behind it (Nussbaum). Her performance leaves the viewers as scared and vulnerable as she is within her own household.
All of these stories are placed in the lovely setting of Monetery, CA. Valle intertwines shots of the characters with views of the ocean, or water. In almost every scene there is water: whether it is a shot of the ocean, or the harbor where the moms frequently meet for coffee. The use of water reflects the tides of the community: rough, unpredictable and always seemingly somewhat perfect.
The dialogue also explains the twisted ways of the seemingly perfect characters, as one can see in the trailer:
Madeline tells Jane: “we pound people with nice.” The dialogue slightly hints at the violence that is silently occurring behind Lulu Lemon pants, BMWs and pink lipstick.
Oh, and all of this begins with a flash forward to a murder that happens at a school charity event… I highly suggest watching the mini-series for more.