Toni Collette in Bland Netflix Thriller – The Hollywood Reporter

Pieces of her revolves around a seemingly simple question: Who is Laura Oliver (Toni Collette) really? It is who her daughter, Andy (Bella Heathcote), must face after a random act of violence unravels the web of lies Laura has built around their lives, and who Laura herself doesn’t seem to want to settle after decades of grappling with it privately.

The eight episodes of this season spend all of their time examining this mystery, piecing together the entire ugly storyline that led Laura to where we meet her at the beginning of the series. But to some extent, the question of Who Laura Oliver continued to avoid it. Swiping enough to prevent viewers from turning off Netflix’s autoplay, but too broad and disjointed to create much in the way of insight or emotional connection, Pieces of her Struggling to identify a beating human heart at the center of its mystery.

Pieces of her

Key point

A bland thriller almost saved by Toni Collette.

Release date: Friday, March 4 (Netflix)
Cast: Toni Collette, Bella Heathcote, Jessica Barden, David Wenham, Joe Dempsie, Jacob Scipio, Omari Hardwick, Gil Birmingham
Creator: Charlotte Stoudt

At first, the series seemed promising enough. The pilot (like every episode, directed by Mikie Spiro and written by Charlotte Stoudt based on the novel by Karin Slaughter) begins by setting the scene in quick, easy-to-read strokes: the fringe town sleepy sea, humble middle-aged mother. , the aimless artist’s daughter, the loving yet sometimes emotional relationship between them. The shooting ends the story’s tangled sequence of events that are appropriately shocking and horrifying, and the questions that follow raise an annoyed tone. Why did Laura feel uncomfortable being seen on TV in the news about the incident? Why did she suddenly insist on being away from her daughter? Andy doesn’t know anything about her own family? As the threats Laura had foretold drew nearer, Andy continued to flee, first towards safety, then about the truth her mother had tried so hard to hide from her.

As always, Collette is fascinating to watch. Laura is a slippery character by design. She changes a tendency from fiercely protective to cold indifference, fearful to burning with rage, and it is often difficult to know where Laura really ends up and deception or defense mechanisms. hers begins. But Collette holds her steady throughout, turning all of the character’s moods into a single complicated woman in a state of transformation for so long. In supporting roles, Gil Birmingham and Omari Hardwick bring a solid, steady presence that breathes a little warmth into an otherwise chilling show.

Meanwhile, the series works to maintain a sensible sense of momentum. The twists drop with the regularity of the hands, and very little time is wasted on wheel spins or unnecessary detours. (This is a mystery, there are still some.) They are complemented by puzzling glimpses into Laura’s past: a young Laura sitting at the piano, a man being shot on stage at a business conference, a frightened woman flees her husband in the death of the night. Some are fleeting, interrupting as thoughts intruding and disappearing before we can analyze their meaning; others make longer journeys to the past, as Andy makes important discoveries about Laura’s past or retrieves forgotten memories from herself.

But Pieces of her gradually lose steam during the change of seasons. Around episode three, it became apparent that during all the time Andy spent trying to piece together who her mother was, the show itself never stopped to consider who Andysupposedly, in addition to a mechanism that pushes the story forward. Depending on the plot’s needs, she’s either a defenseless deer in the headlights or a slick operator performing spy movie maneuvers. If she has a personality or life goal other than getting to know Laura, or any other friend other than a random person who texts her in the first episode and is never mentioned again after that, Pieces of her did not provide any of those details.

Meanwhile, the more secrets Andy uncovers, the less interesting they become. Curious teases at the start of the season give way to dramatic yet strangely predictable revelations, presented with seriousness and little nuance or feeling. Clear mention of tough issues like corporate greed or political corruption or domestic terrorism for temporary loans Pieces of her light of a more intellectual endeavor, but somewhere throughout the course of the series loses nerve or interest to do anything with them. They are not a lens for understanding some bigger picture, but a window dressing to a much smaller and more trivial story of a young woman in a dire situation.

Pieces of her has a slightly stronger foundation with the exploration of violence perpetrated against women – on an individual level by men who claim to be interested in them, but also on a larger scale by socially conscious intends to defend them, as hinted by footage from March of Women’s 2017 broadcast on TV or a skeptical conversation about female political candidates overheard on the radio. Such abuse leaves its mark even on women like Andy, who have been protected from the worst of it; as Andy realizes at the end of the season, Laura’s experiences have shaped their relationship long before Andy even realizes that they exist. Here, though, Pieces of her there doesn’t seem to be much to say about misogyny other than the fact that it exists, and is a bad thing.

What makes the mediocrity of the series all the more unsettling is that it taps into the seed of a meaningful idea. “Contrary to what you might think, my life doesn’t begin the day you’re born,” Laura snapped at Andy – and it hurt to look at Andy, there was something real about the line and reliable information on deviant parent-child dynamics. Under all its cold, the exclusions and twists are increasingly outrageous but increasingly less attractive, Pieces of her it’s basically about a young woman actually seeing her mother for the first time, not as the flawed parent who raised her but as a whole person in her own right. But in order for that idea to be as successful as possible, we need to first consider these people as human beings – so that we can see them as living, breathing creatures, not just a collection of objects. Dirty plot points are recorded on a piece of paper somewhere.

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