Review: I Know This Much Is True
Mark Ruffalo is no stranger to dual roles, having successfully inhabited mild-mannered Bruce Banner and his superhero alter ego Hulk from the Avengers movies.
He levels up even more for this six-part miniseries, immersing himself even further and more fully as identical twin brothers Thomas and Dominick Birdsey - two men lost in the woods, with one gone so long he may never be found, but the other with better odds of saving.
Judging from Ruffalo's stunning, career-best work here, he should be a shoo-in for the Best Actor Emmy this year.
Seriously, his teary eyeball out-acts 90 per cent of Hollywood, which perhaps explains why there are several close-ups of it throughout.
In fact, pretty much the entire cast - Rosie O'Donnell as an empathetic social worker, John Procaccino as the brothers' abusive stepfather and Kathryn Hahn as Dominick's former wife - act their eyeballs out too.
From writer-director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond The Pines, The Light Between Oceans) and based on Wally Lamb's 1998 best-selling novel of the same name, I Know This Much Is True is set in the early 1990s.
We see the brothers at different stages in their lives, beginning in their present with both approaching middle age, filled in with Dominick's flashbacks to their childhood and young adulthood, and how their twin bond is tested and twisted over the years.
The first few episodes are a real downer - unrelentingly grim and almost devoid of hope. One really has to be in a contemplative mood to get through it.
After all, the drama kicks off when Thomas, while under a severe episode of his mental illness, cuts off his right hand at a public library, setting off a chain of events that lands him in a forensic institute for the criminally insane.
In the process, Dominick contemplates his own long-suffering life, including the sacrifices made being his brother's keeper and the breakdown of his marriage after losing a baby.
Here is a man who has shouldered such an insane amount of stress, trauma and grief, I was half-expecting him to turn into the raging green giant at any given moment.
But while it may be a painful viewing experience in the beginning, not because it is bad but because it is just so sad, with destruction comes renovation. And we all know, that much is true.
SCORE: 4/5 stars
TV SERIES: I Know This Much Is True
STARRING: Mark Ruffalo, Kathryn Hahn, Rosie O’Donnell, Archie Panjabi, Imogen Poots
WRITER-DIRECTOR: Derek Cianfrance
THE SKINNY: After paranoid schizophrenic Thomas Birdsey (Ruffalo) has a violent public breakdown, his twin brother Dominic (Ruffalo) steps up to defend him and starts reflecting on their troubled parallel lives.
SHOWING: HBO Go and HBO (StarHub TV Ch 601/Singtel TV Ch 420), Mondays at 9am and 10pm