Brilliant acting, soul-strirring soundtrack, mysterious atmosphere mixing different genres and the phylosophical, overall tone, which avoids too much naivety and over-complexity – this is the first season of a new series by HBO, “The Leftovers”. In the golden age of TV series, as once Vince Gilligan said, it’s hard to make a breakthrough with something fresh and original. In case of “The Leftovers”, I have two words for creators – hats off!
A part of world’s population mysteriously departs from Earth, leaving the left ones to question fundamental values and beliefs. Hurt and confused, people look for ways to cope with the sudden rapture – this is how we get to know police chief Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) and his family, or more specifically, what is left out of it. The tragic event casts a shadow on lifes of others in Mapleton as well – a priest, who’s looking for a purpose to believe again, a woman, whose entire family was taken, people, “Guilty Remnant” – association of people, whose ultimate goal is to force others to painfully reminisce about the departed. Emotionally torn apart, all of them are struggling to answer one question – why not them?
To some of the viewers, “The Leftovers” would be a very tiresome experience, leaving something between total chagrin and ecstasy. It is one of the hardest materials to review I have ever watched – it is very off the “mainstream” standards, proving that TV series are progressively becoming more and more art-filled and less obvious. “The Leftovers” magic lies in questions hidden in the dialogues, in the shots, in the events, hanging in the air. These questions are thus left with answers, which apparently require quite a lot of thinking and moral debate. The characters are not flat, each of them fights their own demons and their own fears, whilst all feel the ubiqitous anxiety regarding the future. We might criticize the actions of the characters, but strangely, they are understandable in a crooked way, sometimes even a bit immoral. It is an intelligent, 10-episodes long disputation regarding human flaws, beliefs, emotions and reasons to exist. Lindelof is not providing us with obvious statements, but rather gives hints to interpret the fundamental to the series question “why not us?” on our own.
Regarding the “acting” aspect of ‘The Leftovers”, I only need to express two words – Justin Theroux. Where did this guy hide for so long an why did he do that?! His role is brilliantly outstanding, emotionally raw and eye-catching – his Kevin Garvey is as human as it is possible, progressivelly being torn off his confidence and pride, admitting his failures and seeking for understanding. This transformation is a gripping process to observe and its fostered by fantastic supporting roles. Christopher Eccleston in a role of Matthew is mezmerizing – a devoted servant of God, whose faith was put to a test under the strange circumstances and who also struggles with his haunting past; silent Amy Brenneman playing the outside-firm-inside-fragile wife of Garvey, who happens to be also a member of Guilty Remnant; Carrie Coon as Nora Durst, probably the most heavily wretched by the sudden departure of her entire family; Margaret Qualley being the rebel daughter, who seemes to be more and more detached from her father – the list really goes on. If anyone could be pointed out as a weakness, that would be Chris Zylka, who, in my opinion, did not suit the overall tone of Lindelof & Perrotta’s vision.
“The Leftovers” is also a fantastic musical feast. Credits to Mr. Max Richter, whose soundtrack catches the dark atmosphere perfectly, feels like a halo above each of the episodes, a stylish denouement to a fantastic series. The piano theme touches with its sublime delicacy, whilst some of the tracks picked for the series (cover of “Nothing Else Matters”) suit the scenes in a really riveting manner. Hands down to Richter for this classy work he did on “The Leftovers”. Perrotta and Lindelof (creators of “The Leftovers”) should be thankful to Richter and the cast, but not only them – the editing is also top-notch, the shots create a sharp contrast between the brightful, organized Mapletown and what happens in each of the house in the trimly looking streets.
Despite this undisputable greatness pumping out form the screen, “The Leftovers” seem to be a one season hit, perfectly shaped into something artfully mezmerizing. The story is well delivered, the questions left to make us think. Eventually, the second season will air this year, but I’m seriously curious, what can Lindelof squeeze out of this story to keep up with the Joneses in terms of surprising the audience. Seems to me, that Garvey’s story would go to the category one-season-brilliance, like “True Detective” or “Bloodline”, rather than being prolonged into a neverending soap opera. Nevertheless, it is a piece I definitely recommend – if you enjoyed my recommendations so far, I dare to say you will like “The Leftovers”.
Let me know what you think!