Here’s an excellent miniseries that perfectly portrays the characters in Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of stories about the difficult and misunderstood Olive Kitteridge and her relationships with the people in Crosby, Maine. I had been looking forward for a long time to watch the HBO miniseries. I liked it so much, I went on an Olive Kitteridge binge: I re-read the book, then watched the series a second time!
The 2014 HBO miniseries was directed by Lisa Cholodenko and written by Jane Anderson. It was named Outstanding Limited Series at the 2015 Emmys. Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins and Bill Murray each won Emmys for their performances.
All the actors “get” their characters. Frances McDormand is outstanding as Olive. Richard Jenkins plays a terrific Henry and John Gallagher, Jr. is perfect as Christopher. I wondered how Bill Murray would be as Jack Kennison. All my memories of his SNL performances and film comedy made me worry he’d be too silly. But while there is a hint of humor in Kennison’s character, Murray is great in this role. McDormand and Murray have a refreshing dynamic between them, in a story that is often serious and dark.
The filming is also excellent, giving the scenes an authentic New England feel. Cholodenko and Anderson also keep much of the dialogue from the book, which makes the miniseries a great companion piece to Strout’s stories. And while the miniseries features only a few of the stories, Choldenko includes many details from the others to make it whole.
I highly recommend this miniseries.
If you’re wondering about the cast, here are a few details. Thanks to IMDb.com for this info and to HBO.com for the photos, from left, of McDormand, Jenkins, Gallagher, Jr., Murray and Kazan.
Frances McDormand – Olive. McDormand has been nominated for an academy award four times for Mississippi Burning (1988), Fargo (1996 – she won Best Actress), Almost Famous (2000) and North Country (2005).
Richard Jenkins – Henry. Jenkins is known for his movie appearances in Jack Reacher (2012), The Cabin in the Woods (2012) and Step Brothers (2008)
John Gallagher, Jr. – Christopher. Gallagher has appeared in many television programs, including The West Wing, Law and Order: SVU, NYPD Blue and Ed. He played Jim Harper in The Newsroom.
Bill Murray – Jack Kennison. Murray is well known as an award-winning TV and film actor/comedian for his appearances on Saturday Night Live and many films, including Meatballs (1979), Caddyshack (1980), Stripes (1981), Ghostbusters (1984), Scrooged (1988) and Groundhog Day (1993). More recently, Murray has won awards for Lost in Translation (2003), Hyde Park on Hudson (2012) and Saint Vincent (2014).
Zoe Kazan – Denise. Kazan is the daughter of screenwriters Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord and is the granddaughter of director Elia Kazan. She received her degree in Theater from Yale University and appeared with Cynthia Nixon in a production of “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”. Kazan made her Broadway debut as “Marie” in “Come Back Little Sheba”.
Click here to read my review of Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.
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