Big Little Lies, a limited series based on a best-selling novel by Liane Moriarty, premiered on HBO last Sunday. Leading up to the premiere that has been marked on my calendar for months, I cleared everything off my schedule. Cleaning, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, a workout, flying a drone with my son, a shower and a proper cheese platter with refreshments were done ahead of time. I waited for the pilot with anticipation I haven't felt since the release of the House of Cards. I could barely contain myself. It was great. Just great! Not often I fall head over hills for a show. It takes a bit of swooning in a form of suspense, character complexity, cinematography and excellent writing to draw me in. Big Little Lies pilot was spot on - a mystery about marriage, motherhood and murder.
Marriage and motherhood take centerstage in this adaptation. Without giving anything away, the show - if you read the book, you'll notice some changes to the original work - is about complexity of being a woman, mother, and friend. We're presented with vicious competitiveness, pain, facade, rage, shame, vulnerability, and self-knowledge wrapped in a beautiful setting of California's Golden Coast. It is about the surface and what lies beneath. Just like marriage and motherhood can be, the story is promising, secretive, hopeful, moody at times, and full of monsters, twists and unpredictable turns.
It would be inexcusable not to mention the cinematography of this series. It's masterfully crafted in muted and dark tones to convey the feeling of suspension, secrecy, and despair. The subdued tonality of color is contrasted with breathtaking California's coastal scenery. Carefully weaved through the narration and placed precisely at the right moment: the crescendo of the ocean waves crashing against the rocky shore. It is accompanied by the intervals of silence to de-emphasize the power of a sound. Long pauses in dialogs and the movement of light playfully casting its etherial glow on heroines' faces and objects can be perceived as a form of dynamic narration. A very clever decision, I must say. The choice of color and tonality has an alluring quality that sinks its hooks and pulls you in, delivering small glimpses of what the viewer understands is a path leading to a murder. It's magical.
I'll leave you with the soundtrack by Michael Kiwanuka "Cold Little Heart" - a throaty melody that paints the emotions of Big Little Lies in sound. It's a long track, and it's riveting.