Many of my readers know that Big Little Lies is one of my favorite books. So when the HBO show was announced with Reese Witherspoon involved I was optimistic but skeptical as well. It didn't help that they took the suburban Sydney setting and transplanted it to California- I'm a purist when it comes to adaptations and that didn't sit well. But I'm happy to say after watching the first installment that Big Little Lies is worth a watch.
Is it perfect? No. At times I felt like they were trying too hard, but at the same time it was a surprisingly faithful adaptation (other than the location). Set in Monterey they captured the beauty of the area well, with pounding surf rolling in and the beautiful coastline. And it starts just like the book- we first see the aftermath of a school trivia night gone bad, with a murder victim and lots of witnesses. Funny though- lots of witnesses but there don't seem to be many answers.
And we have a version of one of my favorite parts of the book- the scenes where the various moms and dads carry forth on what they think happened, or more importantly what they think of Madeline and Renata- this all comes down to two power moms and their various retinues. Madeline is played by Reese Witherspoon, and while I didn't picture Madeline from the book as anything like Reese, the casting works. Reese nails it. She has that hyper energetic delivery that captures Madeline to a tee. Nicole Kidman seems perfect as the quiet Celeste- the woman with the seemingly perfect life but a nasty secret. And whereas in the book the secret takes a while to materialize, we see pretty early on here that something bad is happening in her marriage.
Shailene Woodley is Jane, the new mom who helps Madeline out and becomes her fast friend. It's basically the three of them against the Renata entourage- Renata Klein being the woman who is the career powerhouse played by Laura Dern. The gist of the story is that it's the first day of school, and Jane's son Ziggy is accused of bullying and hurting a little girl- Renata Klein's girl. There is some doubt as to whether Ziggy did it- but no matter, Renata is having none of the denials and the battle lines are drawn. Madeline is only too happy to go to war with Renata.
What does this have to do with a murder? Well parents take sides as the spat between Madeline and Renata gets out of hand- and it all culminates at the school trivia night where someone ends up dead. Along the way we find out a lot of secrets, and the book at least is pretty funny at times- whether that will carry over to the show remains to be seen. One quibble I had is that even though most of these parents have money, I didn't really think they all lived in oceanside mansions. Madeline has money as I recall (I read the book a couple years ago) but THAT much money? Her and Nicole and Renata all spend time in this first episode on their decks overlooking the ocean, and it seemed a bit overdone.
As far as the murder goes, if you've read the book you know the deal. I think that we're going to build to it and I also think the show is going to go some places the book didn't- judging from the preview of future episodes we're going to get a bit lurid at times. But there's a lot to unpack here and so far this felt a lot like the book. Plot points I had forgotten- the French nanny, certain characters- this is all going to be fun watching it play out.
I need to try the first eposide, I'm quite curious. I didn't know it was a bookReplyDelete
The book is good, and the show is too!Delete
Haven't read the book or watched the show but I'm going to look it up. As far as the characters all having money, that's one of my quibbles over a lot of American shows.ReplyDelete
Yeah I think you're right. I hope you give this one a chance.Delete
I watched this first episode without reading the book and I find the performances are surprising me. Reese is spot on, Nicole is restrained and Shailene is doing an admirable job of presenting someone who is broken. Weirdly I feel for Renata -- she's like the outsider looking in at the popular girl clique and wanting to be aprt of it in a way? Looking foreward to see the rest!ReplyDelete
Reese is the bomb! Best character... and I'm not fond of Renata only because I didn't like her in the book. But if I came into this without the book I can see caring about her- after all her child WAS bullied...Delete
I think the first episode was good - better than I expected. I actually loved Reece Witherspoon in that role. She had the right energy for sure. I do hope they keep some of the funny in and don't make it all dark. I have higher hopes now though after episode 1.ReplyDelete
Me too! very pleasantly surprised. And little things from the books that I forgot about- like when the nanny showed up- I was oh yeah. that's gonna be big.Delete
I'm holding off on watching it until I read the book but I am recording it for later. Sounds like a great watch!ReplyDelete
I think you will like it when you get to it.Delete
I can't believe I forgot to record Big Little Lies. Thanks for the reminder! I won;t read your review just yet though LOL. I'll be back to comment after I see the first episode :)ReplyDelete
I need to read this book! I have it sitting on my bookshelf.ReplyDelete
Oh it's so good!!Delete
I'm going to need to try the book and the show!ReplyDelete
Yes, try both!!Delete
I can't wait to start this series! LOVE, love the book. :DReplyDelete
I'm so curious about this and I love Reese Witherspoon! I haven't read the book but any character who is high tension energy I can picture Witherspoon doing to perfection. TV world money always seems funny. Houses always seem crazy out of proportion to what they would actually be. I saw a movie once where the woman was a teacher's aide and the guy was a low level commerical real estate agent and they lived in this massive house in LA with a live in housekeeper. Glad you enjoyed the first episode. I really need to read the book soon so I can start watching this!ReplyDelete
I can't decide if I should just jump into the show without reading the boo, even though I really want to read it. Oooo set in Monterey? I'm down for that!ReplyDelete
I haven't read the book, but I did enjoy the first episode and plan to keep watching.ReplyDelete
I've not read the book and actually had no clue what it was about and then I heard about the TV show and I am really intrigued. It's airing a bit later here in the UK so I may try and record the series whilst I try and get my hands on a copy of the book so I can compare and contrast. I do hate when they change things in adaptations but I'm glad to hear it doesn't seem to have affected your enjoyment too much.ReplyDelete
I haven't read the book yet, but this makes me want to check out the first episode!ReplyDelete