Kate Winslet gives the performance of her life as a foul-mouthed short-tempered badly-dressed out-of-shape beer-swilling chain-vaping miserable middle-aged detective in Mare Of Easttown.
I have history with Kate Winslet, which makes me not exactly her biggest fan. Back in the day I called her out for hypocrisy in an article that made headlines all over the world.
She had given an interview speaking out in protest at how female actors have to conform to a Hollywood ideal of slim, feminine beauty. Hear hear, I hear you say – and you would be right.
The problem came with the cover photo, and the pictures inside the GQ article. They had been airbrushed to make her look slimmer (ludicrously so), and her skin as flawless as a porcelain doll.
Her response to the predictable chorus of disapproval was to claim she had been photoshopped against her will. Except she hadn’t. She had sat with the editor approving the photoshopped pictures.
Anyway, that’s water under the bridge: I got my story, she saved her reputation, and all is fair in love and showbiz. I’m over it.
Over it enough to declare that her performance in Mare Of Easttown, the HBO drama which has just finished on Sky Atlantic, is not only her career best – but one of the best screen performances you’ll see in a long long time. And it’s very much in the “no airbrushing” mould.
Winslet plays against type as a foul-mouthed short-tempered badly-dressed out-of-shape beer-swilling chain-vaping miserable middle-aged detective teetering on the edge of a breakdown. She’s lost her husband to the next-door neighbour, she’s lost the respect of her own mother and daughter, who she lives with, and she’s losing the confidence of her own police chief.
When we meet her she’s trying to solve the mystery of two missing girls in some godforsaken Pennsylvania smalltown filled with terrible secrets: a place where the sun never shines, the flannel-shirted townspeople never smile, all the men have beards and are having affairs with all the women (and, conceivably, children) and pretty much any of them could be the kidnapper and/or killer.
If Winslet doesn’t get an Emmy for this, there’s no justice. But she will. Not least for her distinctive and distinctly unattractive Philadelphia accent, which never falters. In the pantheon of great screen accents, it’s up there with Frances McDormand’s memorable Marge Gunderson in Fargo.
In the beginning the show has the glacial pace and washed-out wintry photography of a Scandinavian arthouse movie. I remember many viewers were ready to turn off after episode 1, but patience is rewarded. The twists begin to come in the second hour, and keep on coming all the way up to the finale in episode 7. You’ll be on the edge of your seat.
As soon as it’s released from its paywall prison at Sky, I would urge everyone who hasn’t seen it to track it down, and give it time to unfold.