Small-Town Secrets Exposed, a Compelling True Crime Drama You Can’t-Miss
TV MINI-SERIES REVIEW
Love & Death
Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 7 x 57m episodes
Director(s): Lesli Linka Glatter
Writer(s): David E. Kelley
Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Jesse Plemons, Lily Rabe, Patrick Fugit, Krysten Ritter, Tom Pelphrey, Keir Gilchrist, Elizabeth Marvel.
Where To Watch: the first three episodes will debut on HBO Max on April 27, 2023, followed by one episode weekly through May 25. (On May 23, HBO Max is becoming Max)
RAVING REVIEW: True crime brought to life in LOVE & DEATH creates a world that perfectly emulates the period setting. This narrative peels back the layers of a seemingly peaceful Wylie, Texas, revealing the sinister undercurrents of infidelity, brutality, and emotional chaos. The series is based on the book "Evidence of Love: A True Story of Passion and Death in the Suburbs" and a collection of articles from Texas Monthly, which looked into the chilling murder of Betty Gore.
The series cast is stacked, featuring Elizabeth Olsen as Candy Montgomery, Jesse Plemons as Allan Gore, and Lily Rabe as Betty Gore. They offer an in-depth perspective on the shocking events that have intrigued audiences for decades. Olsen's magnetic portrayal of Candace "Candy" Montgomery is particularly noteworthy and is a primary draw for viewers. Although ultimately, even the supporting characters, whether you’re supposed to love or hate them, hit their marks perfectly.
LOVE & DEATH flips the script on two seemingly perfect couples in small-town Texas and the twisted events that shatter their world. Helmed by creator David E. Kelley and director Lesli Linka Glatter, the series encapsulates the small-town vibe and late 70s to early 80s era with finesse. The music, set design, wardrobe, haircuts, and even the slang (used in moderation) all make you feel you were dropped into this moment.
Initially, I was a little off-put by the breakneck pacing, but as the series goes on, it makes more and more sense as to why that pacing was used and the amount of story that was put into this series. LOVE & DEATH distinguishes itself from other true-crime dramas by showing the darker side of human nature without resorting to cliches; this experience felt fresh and new, which is challenging to accomplish in this genre. The series also acknowledges the risks of dramatizing such narratives, offering a unique vantage point from which to view this heart-rending story.
The nuanced and layered performances by Plemons and Olsen will cause enough for most to connect to the story. There is something about their performances that has you rooting for them no matter how the narrative plays out. I saw some others talking about their preference for the series to dive deeper into these characters and their way of thinking throughout. I disagree wholeheartedly; the character development was perfect, you knew exactly what you needed to and not an ounce more, and it made so much of a mystery without making you answer everything on your own.
It examines small-town life and the stereotypes that so many believe about how they somehow escape from human emotions. This was a perfect storm for an unfortunate real-life crime that shows how much you can’t assume when you think you “know someone.”
LOVE & DEATH is a well-executed series that immerses viewers in a bone-chilling true-crime narrative while avoiding the pitfalls of sensationalism. Showcasing outstanding performances by Elizabeth Olsen and the rest of the ensemble, the series vividly portrays a tragic tale of love, betrayal, and brutality in this little town.
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[photo courtesy of WARNER BROS. DISCOVERY]