In the HBO series “Mare of Easttown” a completely unheroic policewoman investigates. The unglamorous and highly exciting production is just as much a crime thriller as it is social drama.
Mare (Kate Winslet) rarely comes to rest. Sometimes in the kitchen in the evening when everyone is already in bed. Or in the morning before getting up, before the new day makes its claims to power. Then she looks into space, breathes in silently, holds the air for a moment and lets it escape from her mouth with the sound of a punctured car tire. Others would sigh, but Mare is too proud for that. The voiceless exhalation is the futile attempt to throw off the ballast of her existence for at least a few seconds – and just one of many small details with which Kate Winslet brings the figure of the overworked criminal investigator in the HBO series “Mare of Easttown” so vividly to life .
Mare grew up in the small town where she has served for many years. No trace of provincial idyll. Pennsylvania winters are cold. Most of the people in Easttown belong to what is left of the working class after all the crises. Break-ins, domestic violence and drug-related crime determine everyday police operations. Everyone knows everyone here, and Mare knows them all. The old lady she rings out of bed on her home number in the morning because a stranger has entered her garden. The desperate African American who reports a break-in by her heroin-addicted brother and then pulls the complaint back. Most of the perpetrators are caught quickly thanks to the investigator’s social insider knowledge.
Only the case of the missing daughter of an old school friend, Mare was never able to solve. A professional failure that is seen as a personal failure by many in the area and, above all, by yourself. When a young woman is found murdered in the forest, Mares’ reputation as a policewoman is at stake with the resolution of the case. Of course she knows the victim. Erin (Cailee Spaeny) became a mother much too early a year ago and lived separately from her boyfriend Dylan (Jack Mulhern) with her father Kenny (Patrick Murney). When Mare informs him of the death of his daughter, she brings Kenny’s cousins with her to reinforce them. The two of them do their best to keep the father from cutting everything down.
“Mare of Easttown” also tells about it: about men who turn every feeling into anger, and about women who have learned to live with it. For Kenny it is clear that only the ex is a possible perpetrator. The next day, a video surfaced online showing Dylan’s new friend Brianna (Mackenzie Lansing) when she brutally beats Erin. But the two aren’t the only suspects. With every episode, another potential perpetrator comes into play, which always releases new shocks in the structure of the small community, which often reach into Mares’ family.
This crime series from screenwriter Brad Ingelsby (“An Eye for an Eye – Out of the Furnace”) and director Craig Zobel is about more than just a suspenseful Whodunit plot. It’s about the consequences of a crime for the battered residents in the social fabric of a small town. Mare also took more from life than it gave. The drug addict son committed suicide, leaving her a five-year-old grandson, whom she looks after together with daughter Siobhan (Angourie Rice) and her mother (Jean Smart). The grief over the death of their son tore the family apart. Her husband Frank (David Denman) separated from her, wants to remarry soon and lives with his fiancée in the house opposite. The private worries and the professional stress have sunk deep into Mares’ soul. She gives her best everywhere, but that doesn’t seem to be enough for a long time.
It is the state of deep exhaustion and at the same time the firm will not to give up that characterizes the completely unheroic investigator. Kate Winslet is outstanding in this role, which takes her as far as possible from her British roots. She succeeds in making a character, who eats up all feelings, accessible to the audience with a finely calibrated arsenal of micro-emotions. It is by far the best performance of her thirty-year career, with which she finally freed herself from all the languor stereotypes that have persisted with her since “Titanic”.
But “Mare of Easttown” is anything but a one-woman show. Here every minor character is drawn with a deep human interest, embodied in an absolutely credible way by the consistently competent cast, whose overall performance is effectively condensed into a social painting of the soul.