Wednesday, January 6, 2016

True Detective (season 1)

True Detective; crime-drama series, USA, 2014; D: Cary Joji Fukunaga, S: Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Potts

In the present, former Louisiana detective Marty Hart gives an interview to a team about his crime case in '95: back then, he teamed up with the eccentric Rusty Cohle to investigate the murder of Dora Lange, a prostitute, who was found naked with deer antlers on her. During that time, Marty was having an affair, even though he was married to Maggie and had two kids, whereas Rusty was very philosophical about the world. They found clues which they thought led them to the killer, Ledoux, but Marty killed him in disgust when he found slave kids in his atic. After Maggie slept with Rusty, Marty broke all contact with her. Back in present, Marty and Rusty team up because they realize that they did not catch the real killer. Childress, who is a distant cousin to the governor. They find and kill Childress, but get wounded in the process.

"True Detective" is another TV show that offered what a lot of movies did not in 2014, namely a thoroughbred crime investigation story that keeps the viewers intrigued and hooked to their seats. Its mood is similar to A. Parker's "Mississippi Burning" and "Angel Heart", two crime movies that also explored America's South, and whose investigation process was also just a skillful catalyst for a wider depiction of the mentality and customs of the people in that area. The first four episodes are undoubtedly excellent, with fantastic narrative and a remarkably ambitious directing by Cary Joji Fukunaga (a real treat awaits the viewers in episode #4 - where a heist of a gang disguised as police officers to break into and rob a house goes badly - since it features a delicious 6 minute long scene filmed in one take), but the last four episodes are not quite on the same level, since the writing is weaker, especially in the somewhat standard episodes #5 and #6. Some subplots also lead nowhere - for instance, Rusty's hallucinations proved to be without a point or a function in the final episode, and should have been written out, whereas it features HBO's tendency to show some sex scenes only for the sake of it, just to demonstrate that it can show them while other TV shows cannot, yet without that much role in the sole narrative itself.

The finale is very good, but not as intense or as rewarding as it could have been, since a lot of time was spent just listing names which do not mean much alone when they are not enacted - show, don't tell. Despite flaws, the major highlight is undoubtedly the excellent character of Rust Cohle, who is almost some sort of a modern philosopher stuck doing the detective's job, and features Matthew McConaughey in his finest hour. Actually, Cohle is the only one who benefits from character development even during weaker episodes. Writer Nic Pizzolato shows a 6th sense for some inspired dialogues with philosophical edge, and Cohle uses it plentiful ("Human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution. Nature created a separate aspect of itself." / "This place is like a faded memory of a town. It is fading." / "If the only thing keeping a person decent is the expectation of divine reward, then brother that person is a piece of shit; and I'd like to get as many of them out in the open as possible" / "Transference of fear and self-loathing to an authoritarian vessel... Certain linguistic anthropologists think that religion is a language virus that rewrites pathways in the brain"), though his partner Marty has a few moments as well ("If things were so great back then, they would never change").


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