Season 2 Of Big Little Lies Floats With Hope

Big  Little  Lies Season  2(HBO, streaming on  Hotstar In India)

Starring Nicole Kidman,Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravits, Meryl Streep

Directed  by Jean-Marc Vallee,Andrea Arnold

Rating: ****(4 stars)

 Unless  it is The  Godfather Part 2, sequels are never  given  an unconditional thumbs-up . There will always be  the  hardliners asking, what  was the need?

Well,  Big Little  Lies which made a grand impact  last year is back with another season. And  with reason. There  is so much of a  story  left to tell.The  five protagonists Madeline(Reese Witherspoon),  Celeste(Nicole Kidman) , Jane(Shailene Woodley) ,  Renata(Laura Dern)  and Bonnie(Zoe Kravitz) have so much left to say and feel.

 In its  second season Big Little Lies remains as  compelling and saturated in the screaming  silences of lives that are brought to the brink, as it was in Season 1. The  Big  Event in Season 2  is of course the  untouchable Meryl  Streep. Her television debut as  Nicole Kidman’s mother -in- law is imbued in intuitive innuendos.  It’s not so much what  Meryl says as what she doesn’t say that makes  the character of the mother who won’t accept her son’s  murder as an accident, so  palpable and urgent.

And never mind the  ugly teeth prosthetics.

 Streep has  some strong scenes specially one where Renata (Laura Dern,  blissfully over-the-top in Season 2 as well) screams at ans taunts Streep in  an eatery. Streep simply silences the screaming socialite with her unstated rebuke. The sequence ends fabulously with Meryl telling the eatery’s  attendant to pack what has Renata ordered. “Because we’re going to the same place.”

The courtroom finale  would have looked like  showcase for Steep and Kidman’s combined  charisma were  it nor for the fact that the writing is never awed  by the formidable cast, not just the women  but also the  male actors whose supporting roles never  seem  underwritten. In fact  Adam Scott who plays Reese Witherspoon’s husband has the funniest scene this season with an old ladyfriend in a  supermarket who tells  him she looks different as she had breast implants done.

 The  narrative  stretching into seven episodes has heft and  resonance. Conflicts among the women never appear manufactured or  strained. The  entire scenario painted into a luscious landscape of seas and mountains is superbly  imaged . What seemed  alittle hard to believe  was  Meryl Streep’s  absolute denial of her  murdered son(AlaxanderSkarsgard)’s wife-beating personality. Streep’s comments  on her son’s sexual  misdemeanours  makes  the character  look silly and stubborn, which Streep would have  never wanted.

But the dramatic highs, such as   the  bravura  courtroom finals are so  exhilarating , one tends to  overlook the  aberrations.  Oh yes,  before I forget, India is respresented by Poorna Jagganathan whose  role  is  so brief  and  skimpily sketched  that I wondered she has been tomtomming about in the  Indian  press.

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