TV review: Mare Of Easttown
It has been a while since Kate Winslet scored herself a star vehicle as mainstream as this, and it is a welcome reminder of why she is one of the best actresses of our generation.
From creator-writer Brad Ingelsby (The Way Back) and director Craig Zobel (The Leftovers) comes what could be your latest TV obsession.
The seven-part series Mare Of Easttown follows Mare Sheehan (Winslet), a hard-charging yet empathetic small-town Pennsylvania detective who concurrently investigates the murder of a teenage girl and two unsolved missing person cases, while trying to keep her life and career from falling apart.
Admittedly, the pilot episode is far too indulgent, taking almost the entire run time to set up every single supporting player of the close-knit community and their backstories, before hitting us at the end with the homicide.
But it will be worth your while to stick with the show, as the rest of it unfolds suspensefully, while inching closer to the central mystery.
Like any soapy crime drama worth its salt, everyone appears to be a suspect, from Sheehan's former husband (David Denman) and her new-in-town lover (Guy Pearce) to even the local priest.
The only male that is not the slightest bit shady is Evan Peters' eager county detective called in to assist with Sheehan's investigation, who inexplicably ends up having a crush on her.
Mare Of Easttown is in the same moody, atmospheric vein as True Detective, Sharp Objects, Top Of The Lake and even the recent Big Sky, so fans of the genre can expect conventions and cliches to pop up, alongside the usual twists and turns.
It also successfully explores the dark side of a small town and how past family tragedies can define our present.
But what the others do not have is a powerhouse, anchor and main attraction like Winslet, who is given a fascinatingly complex lead character and meaty material to sink her teeth into, as Sheehan goes around excavating skeletons in closets and exorcising her own demons in the process.
It is a performance that will undoubtedly get her awards season recognition next year, a circuit that is familiar ground for her. But great work never gets old.
MARE OF EASTTOWN (M18)
Showing on Mondays at 10am on HBO Go and HBO (StarHub TV Ch 601/Singtel TV Ch 420)