August 2, 2021

Pablo Larrain navigates between worlds and genres

APPLE TV + – ON DEMAND – MINISERIE

As an echo to the upheavals of the world and to this more or less rational impression that nothing will ever be the same again, the series have for several months tend to mourn. In the competition for the most beautiful mausoleum, the proposals currently range from the most stripped (Mare of Easttown) to the most complex (WandaVision).

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Lisey’s story for its part, leans towards the spectacular, for a variation that develops an essentially aesthetic relationship to its subject. Produced by J. J. Abrams, this umpteenth adaptation of Stephen King for the small screen displays cinematographic ambitions: Hollywood casting, premium artistic and technical team.

The framing of the Chilean Pablo Larrain, the chiaroscuro signed Darius Khondji are not the least assets of this miniseries whose plot oscillates between two worlds, and even more of different genres. The layers here are unevenly thick, and not all of them have the same flavor. The object is in any case the interest of having been scripted by the writer from Maine, who had several times expressed the wish, since its publication in 2006, to see this novel with very visual material transposed to the screen.

Mourning impossible

Widow slightly on the razor’s edge of a writer (Clive Owen) whose popularity borders on sectarianism, Lisey (Julianne Moore) drags her loneliness from one room to another of her house, without resolving to entrust the archives of her husband to local university bodies. Almost nothing will be known of what Scott Landon wrote, nor of what he left before he died, two years earlier, under enigmatic circumstances.

Lisey remains throughout the series a character uniquely defined by her relationship to others and especially to her husband

This blind spot is one of the most astonishing of this series which, moreover, multiplies the signs and the effects of meaning. Like these clues that Lisey finds scattered around the house, pieces of a treasure hunt drawn by Scott and which Lisey thinks has no other purpose than to teach her “To live alone”. Or like the catatonic attacks and self-harm sessions of Amanda (Joan Allen), Lisey’s older sister, which remind her of Scott’s own mental illness, prone to the same ailments. Or this fanatic reader who threatens Lisey if she does not publish Scott’s unpublished works. There are definitely a lot of people in the cemetery.

Key to this impossible mourning, the mapping of the Landon couple is the subject of multiple back and forth times. The sequences featuring, with astonishing brutality, the miserable childhood of Scott and his older brother, sadized by a psychotic father, are not the most original but hit where it hurts. It is strange, however, that so little space is given to Lisey’s own “story”, which throughout the series remains a character uniquely defined by her relationship to others and especially to her husband. In a way, Lisey’s story also speaks to us of influence.

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