Once I’ve read in an article that Netflix’s productions are effects of thousands of studies regarding their audience – what would people want to watch? One may say, that it kills the freedom of creation, but here comes an argument – “Bloodline”. The new 2015 TV series of Netflix is a piece of work worth being mentioned. Even though it exhibits drawbacks to complain about, one is certain – this unflinching drama makes you grab the edge of the seat. Plus, Ben Mendelsohn is possibly one of the most talented, bizarre and underrated guys in the history of cinema.
John, Kevin and Meg live in Florida and stick very close to their parents, who run a hotel just next to the beach. The life of the Rayburns family changes significantly, when the fourth sibling – Danny – comes home and step by step destroys their quiet life by unburying the long gone mysteries and lies from the past. As the time passes by, his presence among other siblings becomes not only uncomfortable, but even dangerous.
The plot of “Bloodline” is not the most intriguing or mysterious, but the idea to lay cards on the table in the first episode was a smart move. Even though we know from the beginning what will happen to Danny (Ben Mendelsohn), the more episodes we watch, the more we wish this inevitable finale would’n’t happen. Danny manipulates everyone else, but it seems to be in the Rayburns’ blood – he triggers the same ferocious emotions in all of his brothers and sister. The writers of “Bloodline” were set to achieve this effect – that’s the phenomenon, when the audience loves the bad guy.
Undeniably, this review could be focused solely on Danny Rayburn. I really can’t describe the entire pallette of emotions his performance provided me; it was outstandingly thrilling and exciting. Danny Rayburn provoked my interest from the beginning, he frightened me, made me feel extremely uncomfortable, but at the same time I felt more and more attached to him. Danny Rayburn was also repulsive and repugnantly cruel, self-interested and intriguing. And finally, Danny Rayburn was a sad monument of how atrocious is human nature, how the self-spiralling chain of lies and violence forged a monster. All of this was portrayed by one man, whose role is more than outstanding. Ben Mendelsohn has not only stolen the show – he MADE the show.
It is hard to write about other characters, since they all remain in the shadow of Danny. John (played by Kyle Chandler) is the cop-brother, who feels the responsibility to take care of others, which surely is a childhood-rooted trauma. Chandler suits the concept, with his humble sight and calming tone, he balances the other two siblings – Kevin and Meg. Linda Cardellini playing Meg is quite firm in her performance as a spoiled lawyer and a pathetic hedonist, but Norbert Butz as Kevin is just a damp squib – every single appearance of Kevin only builds up the all-negative emotions towards him. Nevertheless, as I stated before – all the sins are forgiven thanks to Mr. Ben “****” Mendelsohn.
“Bloodline” is also a far shot from pantheon of best ones in terms of soundtrack. The original soundtrack is rather neutral and only sometimes adjusts itself to the dark side of the story. Unfortunately, the show lacks some innovativeness and imagination in terms of the score. On the other hand, the new Netflix series is brilliantly directed – credit goes to Jaime Reynoso, who did some amazing job; the high-angle shots, unconventional and original ones using mirrors and windows and finally, making great use of paradise-like landscape as a contrast to the dark psychological aspect of the story – those were some pretty nice skills there. I got the feeling, that Florida shot by Reynoso was ilusorilly identical to swampy Louisiana from “True Detective”, a dream-like place turned into a nightmare-like place.
Summarizing, I really enjoyed watching the first season of “Bloodline”. It’s a grungy insight into human nature, which adversely reveals itself to be heavily dependent on hatred and fear, rather than love and kindness. An amazing performance by Mendelsohn keeps the murky festival of lies going on, whilst the rest of the cast is a remarkable orchestra, obediently playing ball. Finally, “Bloodline” is another reason to believe, that the best years of TV series are still to be looked forward to – it’s a stirring to a new era of television.
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