The Reel Review
Kate Winslet stars in this HBO limited series about a detective in a small, blue collar town in Pennsylvania who is trying to keep her own life from falling apart as she investigates the shocking death of a teenage mother as well as a years old, cold case disappearance of the daughter of a childhood friend.
Created by Brad Ingelsby (The Way Back) and directed by Craig Zobel (The Hunt), Mare of Easttown has a dour and depressing mood, with Winslet portraying a grumpy, burned out detective in a dreary, burned out town, both whose glory days are well behind them. She lives with her mom (Jean Smart), daughter (Angourie Rice) and grandson whom she is raising following her son’s death.
Everyone in town knows her and she knows everyone, which particularly ruffles Mare’s feathers when a county detective (Evan Peters) is called in to provide a fresh set of eyes in the investigation. Guy Pearce is the new guy in town with whom Mare starts a relationship.
The whodunit is intriguing, reminiscent of 2020’s twist-filled, AppleTV+ crime thriller Defending Jacob. But the hook for this seven episode series (for now, at least) is that it appears to be rooted in more realism, and with more attention to character development and local details – everything from the local beers they drink (Rolling Rock, Yuengling) to their distinctive Delco (Delaware County) accents.
Oddly enough, the only real weakness in the series is Winslet’s own Delco accent, which sounds more forced and jarring than those of her co-stars. But her portrait of the irritable, put-upon detective is more than compelling enough to offset that. This one looks promising.
• Production of Mare of Easttown shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic a day after it started in March 2020. When it resumed six months later, Winslet, Jean Smart, Guy Pearce and Angourie Rice shared a house together.
• Mare of Easttown is the second HBO series starring Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce. Both won Emmy Awards for their roles in 2011’s Mildred Pierce.
• Mare of Easttown was shot near show creator Brad Ingelsby’s hometown of Easttown Township, Pennsylvania. He says he was inspired to write the series after speaking with a detective in a small town who handled all the town’s cases.