By Evelyn Garcia
Everyone has a secret in the city of Monterey, California where most of the picture-perfect moms drink wine at the end of a long day while staring off at their oceanfront views, argue with one another over their musically inclined children and attend the occasional yoga class.
This is the setting on the HBO hit series “Big Little Lies.” The show, which aired its series finale April 2, is an adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s novel of the same name where murder mystery meets “Desperate Housewives.”
The all-star cast delivers stellar performances, going beyond the surface of a murder drama.
The series is produced by Reese Witherspoon, who plays the feisty Madeline McKenzie, and Nicole Kidman, who brilliantly portrays the beautiful Celeste Wright, who is in an abusive relationship with her much younger husband, Perry (Alexander Skarsgard).
“Big Little Lies” begins like most murder mysteries do, right where the crime occurs, then jumps back in time to the events leading up to it.
The audience doesn’t know who died or who committed the crime, but through police interviews with other residents of Monterey whose children also attend Otter Bay, the story unravels and becomes increasingly complex each week, diving deeper into the storyline of each character.
Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) is a young mom who has just moved to Monterey with her son, Ziggy, to seek a better life for them both, with the “private school at a public-school price,” as referred to by Madeline.
Madeline immediately welcomes Jane with open arms into her friendship circle with the soft-spoken Celeste.
From the first episode of the seven-part series, music plays an integral part of the show, becoming a character itself.
Ranging from blues, folk and rock, even featuring a song by cast member Zoe Kravitz, the show’s official soundtrack was finally released Friday.
Kravitz plays Bonnie, Madeline’s ex-husband Nathan’s young bohemian wife who serves wine in clay mugs and teaches yoga.
The intro to the show is almost as haunting as its premise, playing “Cold Little Heart” by Michael Kiwanuka.
Throughout the series, we see more songs play an important role, with Celeste playing “Straight from The Heart” by Irma Thomas, a love ballad with lyrics discussing the pain and crying suffered from love, something she is all too familiar with, in the situation she finds herself in with Perry.
He claims he loves her, yet emotionally and physically hurts her- each time regretting his actions, apologizing, then going around full circle.
As the series progresses, we see Celeste go from victim in denial to searching for a way out in order to save her sons from the abuse.
The problem is that to the outside world, the Wrights have a perfect life with the perfect children and a Facebook photo album to match.
“Big Little Lies,” alongside Kidman’s raw performance, presents the complexity in abusive relationships.
Even Madeline, who, despite her tense persona, seems to have it all together in the beginning, reveals she has secrets herself, ranging from a passionless marriage with Ed or “Steady Eddy” (Adam Scott), to feeling unfulfilled in her life having devoted herself to solely being a mother.
The characters on the show even recommend music to one another, or incorporate it to bring about certain types of moods, clearly displaying the song names and musicians for viewers to see.
Madeline’s daughter, Chloe, frequently plays “River” by Leon Bridges in an attempt to stimulate affection between her parents.
Jane attempts to remain strong throughout each episode as Ziggy is accused time and time again of being a bully, mostly by Laura Dern’s character, Renata Klein, the powerful career woman. As she grapples with her own demons that continue to haunt her, in one scene she breaks down after one of her usual runs, listening to a song by Martha Wainright with lyrics that begin, “And I’m young and I’m strong but I feel old and tired, over fired,” perfectly capturing where she is throughout most of the series.
Ziggy restlessly questions who his father is, further troubling Jane and bringing back memories of the man she so desperately wishes to forget.
Although not on the official soundtrack, “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” by The Temptations plays frequently within the final episodes. The song is even performed by Ziggy, who the song is presumably played for, with the lyrics, “‘Cause that was the day that my daddy died, I never got a chance to see him. Never heard nothin’ but bad things about him””
It is clear the songs in the series tell a story of their own, prompting audiences of “Big Little Lies” to follow along closely and attempt to solve the murder themselves.
Other notable songs on the soundtrack include “Victim of Love” and “Changes” by Charles Bradley, “This Feeling” by Alabama Shakes and “September Song” by Agnes Obel.
While there is no talk of a return since new material would have to be developed, the series and its soundtrack are truly groundbreaking, which is no surprise with the A-list cast and HBO. The soundtrack is now available on iTunes.
Courtesy of HBO
‘Big Little Lies’ movie poster
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