A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Created By: Nic Pizzolatto
Directed By: John Crowley
Produced By: Steve Golin, Richard Brown, Woody Harreslon, Matthew McConaughey
Written By: Nic Pizzolatto
Starring: Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachael McAdams, Taylor Kitsch
Running Time: 8 Episodes (60 Mins)
It is virtually impossible to analyse a television season without comparing it to its predecessors, particularly an anthology series. The masterful, transfixing thrill ride that was True Detective Season 1 was everything we needed in a short, cinematic investigatory drama.
Lead by a virtuoso pair in Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harelson, the eight episode series was visually breathtaking, tonally engrossing and something rather avant-garde.
The highly awaited Season 2 has hit our screens, but has proven to be astoundingly divisive. The nature of a sequel, follow-up or anything associated to the source material that follows such a success will naturally have big shoes to fill.
Where True Detective Season 2 fell short was that the foot it tried to fit into the shoe left by Season 1 was far too big, had seven toes and was actually a hand. Basically, Season 2 was messy, convoluted and overly ambitious.
With a lead cast from Mean Girls, Battleship, Daredevil and Wedding Crashers fame, what could possibly go wrong for True Detective?
Centred on a main cast double in size to the fist season, a crime scene brings together Highway Patrol Officer Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch), Detective Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) and CID Ani Bezzerides (Rachael McCadams). Also in the mix is criminal and business entrepreneur Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn).
What ensues is a mismatched, scattered collection of hour-long episodes, each appearing to be striving for something bigger, something more substantial.
Season 2 is not without its qualities. With a smooth, striking opening credit sequence that is equally as engrossing as the first, Season 2 is accompanied by the seductive baritone lyrics of Leonard Cohen.
Not capturing the ominousness of Season 1’s “Far From Any Road” by The Handsome Family, Cohen’s sleekly spoken “Nevermind” offers a fitting connection to the second season nevertheless; mainly serving as an answer to people asking what the plot is about…
Performances are sensational across the board, proving the creative forces have had a clear vision from the offset and have been able to extract the most out of their talent. Vaughn particularly impresses as he escapes the stigma attached to his previous dramatic misfires (see Psycho – 1998).
McAdams and Kitsch offer brilliant supporting chemistry, often stealing scenes as the intensity rises. It seems True Detective was precisely what Kitsch needed to boost his career and break away from the slew of mediocre bombs attached to his name.
The show undoubtedly belongs to Colin Farrell. Embodying every aspect of a broken, hardened and tortured individual, he accesses every inner demon he possesses and brings them to the forefront in every scene he occupies.
Regularly exhibiting dark, twisted, troubled characteristics, Velcoro is a genuine highlight, however no less is to be expected with a series such as this.
The cast of Season 2 includes some rather unusual additions, but welcomed additions all the same.
The likes of rocker Rick Springfield and David Morse (The Green Mile) are surprising inclusions to the story for multiple reasons, but to their credit, they provide commendable dynamics and contributions to the progression of the narrative.
Although performances are at a supreme level individually, there seems to be some extraneous variable at play that puts certain characters’ chemistry off centre. Velcoro and Semyon do share many a tense, gripping scene, the exchanged dialogue blended with the enormous presences misses the mark ever so slightly, unfulfilling the potential in such instances.
Comparison to the first season is unfair, but necessary.
What made the first season particularly captivating was not only the chemistry between McConaughey and Harrelson, but the setting over two distinct but connected time periods.
There is substantial change within the characters and the progressive unravelling of each individual within the time periods makes for compelling viewing. Season 2 has virtually none of this, except for a brief scene to address the connection between Velcoro and Semyon in an earlier episode. This aspect of the storytelling is what Season 2 was lacking significantly.
Many have justified the series for improving within later episodes, four and five for example.
Picking up in later episodes and really shifting into fifth gear towards the conclusion, the story does gradually improve as each episode goes by, but for a series to be regarded as great, it shouldn’t wait until it’s halfway mark to make an impact, particularly when the series is only eight episodes long. In order to hook an audience and captivate them from the offset, the story needs to be just that, captivating from the offset.
Met with scepticism and hesitation upon its release, Season 2’s premiere was indicative of what we had in store for the remaining episodes, and what a shame that was.
The highly anticipated second season was not a complete let down, but for all it could have and should have been, it wasn’t a success.
Season 1 was something to behold, something to admire, whereas follow up bit off more than it could possibly chew, over-complicated itself and chose to employ narrative techniques that eventually rendered themselves incoherent.
It may have been easier to follow for some, it was an intense grind; I have my qualms about it all but, never mind…