Bloodline Season 1 (2016)
Creators – Todd and Glenn Kessler
Starring – Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendhelson, Norbert Leo Butz, Linda Cardellini
Rating – TV-MA
Genre – Drama, Thriller
Streaming on Netflix
There is a unique dichotomy between film and television. On the one hand, we tend to regard film as being more elegant than something on the smaller screen, which by and large, is a well-placed regard. However, there are certain advantages that T.V. has over cinema. For instance, where a movie has somewhere around 120 minutes to build character, advance plot, introduce conflict, climax, and resolution, a serial production has closer to 600 minutes per season to do so. Where a feature-length is constrained to answer most of it’s questions within itself, a television show is able to draw out the burning questions, tightening the tension’s screws throughout a whole season. All these and more are becoming the mainstay characteristics of the upper-echelon series we see on our small screens today. In an age where online streaming platforms are crafting original programming with such intricacy and delicacy, Netflix’s original, Bloodline, is no stranger to the multi-episode advantages and employs all that I have mentioned and more.
Bloodline is a slow-burner, no question about it. I wondered after the first episode if I’d enjoy it and wasn’t truly convinced until I was finishing episode four. Why did I keep watching? Well, why do we gawk at someone having a seizure in public? It’s a remarkably private and embarrassing moment between a potentially endangered individual and those around them, yet we insist upon prying our eyes into the private scene. Bloodline feels like this throughout its thirteen episodes. Heralded by the return of their black-sheep-son, we witness a prominent Florida Keys family gnaw at its infected areas like a rabid coyote; not only making their fractured relationships worse, but eventually consuming and devouring themselves from the inside out. Anyone who comes from a broken home may find this particular program difficult to stomach, though you may also take comfort that your family is not near this fractured.
The cast is grade-A all-star. Ben Mendelsohn’s stomach-turning portrayal of the oldest, disenfranchised Rayburn brother has solidified him, in my opinion, as a vastly versatile actor. Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) may have the most difficult role: a man who must lie to himself that he is right in utilizing any means necessary to keep his family together; he plays the part perfectly. Another notable mention is Sissy Spacek, who takes the role of the family’s matriarch. Far from perfect, Spacek’s Sally is a refreshing glimmer of hope against the turmoil, and is delivered by the veteran actress breathtakingly.
The series’ most unique characteristic is its cinematography. Every shot seems to be coming from a hidden place. There is almost always something (a corner, a box, a piece of furniture) in the foreground of the shot, as if we are observing secretly. These shots mirror the show’s tone acutely; we are watching something we shouldn’t be; a private and violent family’s struggle that is certain to leave burnt bridges, and as we see, burnt bodies in it’s wake.
Author: Blake Burrough
499 rating – 9.2/10