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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Bloodline: Mainlining Family

Just finished Bloodline, the latest all-at-once television series on Netflix.  My wife and I slow binge-watched it, for a variety of reasons, mostly because the complex drama was better savored with a just an episode or two each evening.   Netflix has once again hit the mark with an outstanding series, right up up there in its own way with House of Cards and Peaky Blinders, and Amazon's Bosch.

First, the locale is evocative, and best seen in high definition.  We spend lots of time on Cape Cod, which makes me a sucker for anything with a similar land and seascape.   The Florida Keys in Bloodline work just fine as a surrogate Cape.

The story is about a dysfunctional family - to say the least - and the deaths and dynamics of its members make Bloodline a distant cousin, I suppose, of Ray Donovan.   But the narrative is unique and original and all its own.

Ben Mendelsohn puts in a standout performance as Danny, a black sheep prodigal son who returns for a family gathering.   We soon see he's been scapegoated - whether fairly or unfairly - and the family is split about being happy to see him again, with his mother, played Sissy Spacek, most in favor.   What I can tell you, without giving two much away, is that Danny is a masterful deconstructionist, able in any conversation with a family member to pull out just the right stone from their foundation which will cause them to crumble, or close to it.   He also has a good head for crime.

His prime check is his slightly younger brother John, a local lawman, played by Kyle Chandler, in easily his best role since the immortal Coach in Friday Night Lights.   Strong performances are indeed on hand from everyone, and its was especially good to see Linda Cardellini (Mad Men!) as sister Meg, Sam Shepard as the father, and Big Love's Chloë  Sevigny as Danny's sorta girlfriend.

The series is a creation of Glenn and Todd Kessler - best known for their superb Damages - and Bloodline bears the same stamp - dark, deadly, human souls stripped almost bear, and glimpses of the ending to tease the audience, which might have worked better in Damages then in Bloodline, which still should be at the top of your binge-watching television list.


not about a dysfunctional family, but a dysfunctional species
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