Someone’s been watching a lot of Hitchcock! I should say that I love Hitchcock movies, as a film student I learnt so much from them and I owe a lot of my appreciation and love of movies to them so this is no bad thing. The music, the framing devices, the dark humour, one overhead shot down an angular staircase in episode 3 especially screamed ‘Vertigo’ to me. The use of music is especially clever, at times the music seems too light or even unnecessarily doom-laden but it really fits with what I feel this show is trying to do. The overall intention here is to wrong foot you, there’s a sense throughout of unease, that something isn’t quite right and this develops very gently over the 10 episodes.
The premise here is that Julia Roberts’ Heidi Bergman (another Hitch ref?) is working as a counsellor at a facility with the aim of easing the transition of US servicemen to deal with life back home – and especially to help them deal with PTSD. Very early on, we can see there are 2 timelines going on here and the transition between now and then is done in a very disconcerting and to me, unique way – that transitional device is also tinkered with a couple of times so for a second or two you’re not 100% sure where you are.
I’ve read some criticisms that the pace is too slow and I guess this story could fit in to a 2 hour movie rather than what amounts to a 10-hour tv show but the pace really allows the plot to develop beautifully. I’ve recently also completed Jack Ryan on Amazon and while both this and that are excellent and in some ways touch on some of the same ideas, they couldn’t be more different in style.
It’s hard to fault anything Julia Roberts does and when you throw in Sissy Spacek (playing Heidi’s mum) you can feel confident this is going to be good. I’ve also heard some say how great it is that Julia isn’t afraid to go plain in a role but honestly, even with a dodgy haircut and no make-up she’s still beautiful. It is funny the distinction people make when it comes to roles for women – beautiful or plain – but if that distinction is ever levelled at a guy, it’s because he’s gone ‘method’, i.e. doing a Brando or DeNiro.
I also really enjoyed seeing Marianne Jean-Baptiste & Dermot Mulroney in two key minor roles having not seen either of them in anything for many years. (not that they haven’t worked, just that I haven’t caught much of it). Stephan James as Walter Cruz is the main client we see with Heidi; I hadn’t see Stephan in anything before but as Walter he is utterly charming. There’s a very real chemistry between him and Heidi that I especially fell for.
Just one note about the trailer below, I hadn’t seen this before watching the show, I chose it solely because it was a TV show with Julia Roberts in it. I’m not sure whether that ignorance added an extra element of enjoyment or not but having watched it now, I think I wouldn’t have been as enjoyably disconcerted as I was – so think about that before you hit play…
|Network||Amazon Prime Video|
|Cast||Julia Roberts, as Heidi Bergman|
Stephan James, as Walter Cruz
Bobby Cannavale, as Colin Belfast
Shea Whigham, as Thomas Carrasco
|Season||S1 (2018): 10 episodes|