Big Little Lies an irresistible, star-studded affair

By Marriska Fernandes on August 1, 2017 | 18 Comments

Big Little Lies“This is Monterey! We pound people with nice,” said Madeline. “To death,” adds Celeste.

There’s something so profound in this one exchange — an ominous warning of the show’s finale and an insightful glimpse into the lives of these Monterey women, especially Celeste Wright (Nicole Kidman).

Based on the bestselling book by Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies is a murder mystery riddled with satire and humor that exposes what really goes on beneath the masks worn by people.

Once you peel away the layers of superficiality, you see our leading ladies as they are. Cloaked with insecurity and jealousy, each of these women has their own burden to carry. Behind well-decorated mansions lies the story of domestic abuse, sexual assault, infidelity and eventually, murder.

The story opens with a murder scene at the fundraiser for a local elementary school named Otter Bay. Someone has been murdered and the police are interviewing the parents, who give more than their two cents worth about what’s unraveled over the past few months. We aren’t told who has been killed or who the suspects are.

As the show takes us back a few months in time, we are introduced to chatty, perky Madeline Martha Mackenzie, played brilliantly by Reese Witherspoon, as she drops her daughter off on the first day of school. On her way, she runs into Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley), a young, single mother who is also on her way to drop off her son Ziggy at school.

Former lawyer Celeste Wright, Madeline’s close friend, is a stay-at-HBO's Big Little Lieshome mother of two sons. Renata Klein (Laura Dern) is introduced as the career-driven helicopter mom who is clearly not liked by Madeline. As Madeline puts it, she’s the leader of the “Blonde Bobs,” the catty women who should be avoided at all costs.

Madeline also introduces Jane to her ex-husband Nathan (James Tupper), who is now married to Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz), with whom he has a child. Of course, their carefree hippie lifestyle annoys Madeline to the core.

When Renata’s daughter Amabella accuses Ziggy of choking her, war wages in the school parking lot and battle lines are drawn. Jane trusts that her son Ziggy wouldn’t do such a cruel thing, but she has cause for concern, which will later be revealed. While the moms of Monterey play their cards, playground politics are in play.

As the seven episodes play out, we see more of the personal lives of Celeste and Perry, who have a love/hate game they play in the name of passion. Madeline takes Jane under her wing and tries to figure out why Ziggy’s father is not in the picture, while her own life starts to fall apart.

As the plot thickens, the cathartic finale is set at the school’s Trivia Night. That’s when the audience is given closure and the murder is eventually solved in a surprise twist ending.

HBO’s Big Little LiesThe mini-series is punctuated with gripping performances. With such a stellar cast, no actor outshone the other, as often is the case.  I loved watching Reese Witherspoon as Madeline Martha Mackenzie. She delivered the witty humor in a deadpan manner that couldn’t have been played better by any other actor. I looked forward to her quips in every episode.

As the rich, beautiful housewife with a handsome husband and perfect kids, Nicole Kidman’s character was seemingly perfect, but as her painful inner life crumbled, she tenderly shed her fragile self to a point that demanded sympathy from the audience.

Shailene Woodley was another actor who gave a remarkable performance. Clearly, this role was written for her. Playing a victim of assault is a challenge — she wasn’t too detached or overemotional, imbuing her portrayal with just enough spunk to pepper the murder mystery. Laura Dern also deserves a shout-out. She wasn’t a likable character, but Laura ended up earning sympathy from the audience.

Having read the book, I was very impressed with the way this series unfolded. Writer David E. Kelley and director Jean-Marc Vallee traded the book’s Australian setting for a beachfront setting in picturesque Monterey. It’s well-written, well-directed and very well portrayed. Even the child actors were pros. The dynamics of domestic abuse and sexual assault isn’t overly dramatized, but at the same time it brings on chills. The music also deserves a mention. Artists include Michael Kiwanuka, Agnes Obel, Alabama Shakes and Conor O’Brien.

It’s no wonder that Big Little Lies earned 16 Emmy nominations, including Best Limited Series, Outstanding Actress (Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman), Supporting Actress (Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley), Supporting Actor (Alexander Skarsgård), Writing (David E. Kelley), and Directing (Jean-Marc Vallée).

Overall, I really enjoyed slipping away into the lives of these Monterey women and with a glass of wine (or two) you too will enjoy the company of Celeste, Madeline and Jane.

Bonus features include About Big Little Lies, an extended behind-the-scenes look at the series with never-before-seen cast and crew interviews, and Inside the Episodes with director Jean-Marc Vallée and writer David E. Kelley. Click here for a tour of the filming locations in Monterey and click here for a photo gallery. ~Marriska Fernandes

Big Little Lies is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD. We are giving one lucky winner a copy of the Blu-ray. Simply tell us why you would like to win.

Comments & Discussion

  1. Shelina • August 1, 2017 @ 5:42 PM

    Loved watching this was a really awesome entertaining and unique show

  2. Fong • August 1, 2017 @ 7:09 PM

    Looks like a good film strong women

  3. Irene Anderson • August 1, 2017 @ 8:23 PM

    Enjoyed the book. Would love to see it come to life in the series.

  4. Emily Sweer • August 1, 2017 @ 8:37 PM

    I want to win because this looks like an amazing mini-series in SO many ways.

  5. Arturo • August 1, 2017 @ 9:40 PM

    I love the book and the HBO limited series was so good I would want to watch it again and again.

  6. Cindy • August 1, 2017 @ 10:01 PM

    I have heard my friends talk about this series, however I do not have HBO. They have said how awesome it was to watch. I would love to be able to participate in the water cooler discussions with my friends before the hype ends. But who are we kidding I heard of talk about a second series.

  7. Sonya Mann • August 1, 2017 @ 10:49 PM

    This is honestly one of the best shows I’ve seen. I couldn’t stop watching and binge watched the whole season. I made all my friends do the same and now they love it too! Would love to win and then have a girls night to watch it all over again.

  8. kathy • August 1, 2017 @ 11:17 PM

    I don’t have HBO and would love to watch this series. I’ve heard so many positive comments about the series and the actresses portraying characters in the story.

  9. Nancy W • August 2, 2017 @ 12:44 AM

    Why I want to win a copy? I love Nicole Kidman!

  10. Angeline • August 2, 2017 @ 9:34 AM

    I’d like to win because in every woman in this series – I see a little bit of myself; it’s quite cathartic.

  11. Sarah R. • August 2, 2017 @ 9:53 AM

    I want to win because I’ve heard so many positive things about this series. I am super interested in giving it a watch!!

  12. Gladys Marie • August 2, 2017 @ 11:08 AM

    I would love to win! – I enjoyed watching this mini-series and was quite intrigued with it… plus it was everyday life! – but on the big screen (home tv) – mine is only a 28″!?… anyways, I’m glad to see so many Emmy nominations for this show – good acting!

  13. nicky • August 2, 2017 @ 2:28 PM

    Would love to watch this as am a big fan of Nicole Kidman and would like to see her inhabit this interesting character.

  14. Dan • August 2, 2017 @ 7:07 PM

    This was a great mini-series. Not surprised that the show received so many Emmy nominations. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

  15. Austin • August 3, 2017 @ 10:38 AM

    This series seriously spoke to me as somebody who grew up in an abusive household, and was mostly raised by the complex, powerful women around me. It captured relationships and a particular view of them I’m not used to seeing in any medium and I could rewatch it over and over again.

  16. Siu • August 6, 2017 @ 9:01 AM

    I enjoy movies with strong women characters.

  17. Amy • August 7, 2017 @ 7:22 PM

    I loved the show so much that I ended up buying the book. The show is well written and captivating. The cast itself is just brilliant.

  18. Lynda Larsen-Baldry • August 14, 2017 @ 11:06 AM

    I would love to win as I loved the mini series due to the cast, the acting, the story line and would love to be able to watch it at home again and again thank you.

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