Big Little Lies
Nicole Kidman’s dark suburban drama
that the small screen is where all the best stuff is happening – and Australia is playing a key role in delivering it – Sydney author Liane Moriarty’s best- selling novel Big Little Lies has just been brought to life in HBO’s new dark comedy of the same name by director JeanMarc Vallée ( Wild) and adapted by David E. Kelley ( Ally McBeal).
The cast list couldn’t get any better, made up of top- class Hollywood talent including our very own Nicole Kidman, plus Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley ( Insurgent), Laura Dern ( Enlightened), Zoe Kravitz ( Mad
Max: Fury Road) and Alexander Skarsgard ( True Blood).
Set in the idyllic seaside town of Monterey, California, where fake smiles and fast cars are the fashion, this pensive drama tells the tale of three mothers of first- graders whose apparently perfect lives unravel to the point of murder at a school fundraiser.
Though the victim and the perpetrator initially remain a mystery, it soon becomes clear the killing was sparked by school yard scandals, family rivalries and dangerous secrets surrounding the “viciously competitive” mothers.
There are plenty of motives – stay- at- home mum Madeline Mackenzie ( Witherspoon) harbours a raging jealousy towards her ex’s new, younger wife Bonnie ( Kravitz), a yoga instructor with a Zen attitude; Madeline’s best friend Celeste Wright ( Kidman) is a former lawyer with a seemingly perfect marriage to a younger man ( Skarsgård) that starts to go wrong; and Jane Chapman ( Woodley) is a rough- roundthe- edges single mum with a shady past, whom Madeline and Celeste have taken under their wing.
Interwoven with other parents and school staff eagerly sharing gossipy insights, often revolving around Madeline and her nemesis, career- driven mum Renata Klein ( Dern) – the tale unwinds over seven tense yet entertainingly funny episodes, revealing how each of the women had something to hide leading up to that fateful night.
The families might be rolling in cash but money can’t buy happiness, and as one character says, “You can’t make a perfect world. No matter what, s— t happens.” Cutting dialogue demonstrates the social warfare between the adults, with bullying and bitchy verbal battles being held on the playing field and at kids birthday parties – and the words are as sharp as knives.
But who actually died and who did the killing? Be prepared for a long wait before the truth is finally unveiled.
Kidman and Witherspoon are exec producers on the show, and Witherspoon hailed the cast as “the greatest ensemble I’ve ever [ worked with]”.
Based on a top quality book and with a talented cast, this show is set up to be a winner, and that’s no word of a lie. Big Little Lies, Monday, 8.30pm, Showcase ( pay- TV)
“Though the victim and the perpetrator initially remain a mystery, it soon becomes clear the killing was sparked by school yard scandals, family rivalries and dangerous secrets surrounding the ‘ viciously competitive’ mothers.”
Lies worth telling: Shailene Woodley, Reece Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman in Big Little Lies.