I decided to watch this pretty much instantaneously upon discovering it. I remembered this series because it practically swept the Emmys.
The themes tackled are complex: marriage, family and small town living.
Marriage is already a landmine. Middle-age brings with it its own dilemmas of reconciling self-worth with old dreams and loves, of accepting and making peace with compromise, and determining what a sense of family constitutes. As life moves through the stages, and children move away, the complexity of marriage gives way to the complexity of parenthood and independence,
Small town life begs for a sense of community. Whether people like it or not, it's difficult not to get caught and involved in others' lives. In many instances, the containment pictured felt claustrophobic but oddly comforting.
It's all very realistic. It's also very complicated and while the story pulls together tightly, it does so unpredictably. Layers upon layers are slowly peeled away and oftentimes things aren't what they seem. And Olive? Well, her stoicism and hard demeanor and often misconstrued wry humour gives rise to a tender heart -- she's lovable in her own right.
The actors are powerhouses: Frances MacDormand (remember Fargo?), Richard Jenkins (I adored him in Six Feet Under), and Bill Murray (oh, Bill, Bill).
The cinematography is spot-on, beautifully and aesthetically pleasing, capturing the picturesque surroundings of Maine and the raw emotion of these amazing actors.
This is four hours, broken up in one-hour episodes, in a regular joe's life. But it's so real that I can't get this out of my mind. I want the book because I don't doubt that it'll be every bit as good as the series.
When I finished this, I couldn't make a coherent review of the series, a sure sign that I loved it. Right now, it appears that I still have few words to say about it except that I really, truly think you should watch this.
About Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout*: The Pulitzer prize-winning novel from the author of the Booker longlisted My Name is Lucy Barton*, Olive Kitteridge: indomitable, compassionate and often unpredictable. A retired schoolteacher in a small coastal town in Maine, as she grows older she struggles to make sense of the changes in her life. She is a woman who sees into the hearts of those around her, their triumphs and tragedies. We meet her stoic husband, bound to her in a marriage both broken and strong, and a young man who aches for the mother he lost - and whom Olive comforts by her mere presence, while her own son feels overwhelmed by her complex sensitivities. A penetrating, vibrant exploration of the human soul, the story of Olive Kitteridge will make you laugh, nod in recognition, wince in pain, and shed a tear or two.