“Mare of Easttown” – Different Shades of Greyscale [Review]

Mare of Easttown


Title: “Mare of Easttown”

Release Date: 2021

Cast: Kate Winslet, Guy Pearce, Evan Peters, Angourie Rice, Cailee Spaeny, Julianne Nicholson, Sosie Bacon



“Mare of Easttown” is an HBO series that disturbs and tires, but it is impossible to tear yourself away from it. Not only because of the criminal mystery, but primarily because of the character of the title detective, bravuraly played by Kate Winslet. Without a doubt, this is one of the most outstanding roles in the career of this actress. In the multifaceted character of Mare, the depressive atmosphere of a small town, where almost every inhabitant is marked with the stigma of suffering and guilt, comes into focus as if through a lens. The world appears here as a place without a bright side, where only various shades of gray exist.

“Mare of Easttown” – a story in 7 episodes

The series “Mare from Easttown” is set in a small town in Pennsylvania, where there is a brutal murder of a teenage single mother, Erin McMenamin (Cailee Spaeny). A local detective, Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet), tries to track down the killer, but since all indications are that the crime may be linked to the earlier disappearance of another teenager, and the investigation is not moving forward, a certain Detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters) is sent to help. Mare is initially not positive about this cooperation, but over time begins to see the positive aspects of it.

Meanwhile, the circle of suspects grows, and surprising facts from the life of the murdered woman come to light. The atmosphere in the town is becoming more tense by the day, and it is no longer clear who is an enemy and who is a friend. What’s more, Mare has to grapple with her own family drama, which has completely shaken her life and left unhealed wounds. Years ago, her son Kevin committed suicide, and she is caring not only for her growing daughter Siobhan (Angourie Rice), but also for her young grandson.

Mare of Easttown review

The series “Mare of Easttown” – the story of a strong woman

The creation of Mare is, for me, a showcase role for Kate Winslet. Awarded with a Golden Globe and an Emmy statuette, among others, the actress creates in the series an extremely believable character of a middle-aged woman crushed by the weight of painful life experiences. What is amazing here is the simultaneous combination of the strength of the heroine, representing the demanding profession of a police officer, with her great weakness. This mixture makes us believe Mare-Winslet in every scene: when we see how she barely rises from bed in the morning, how she drives her car to work in a messy hairstyle, in a pulled-up shirt and jeans, without an ounce of makeup, how, forgetting the whole world, she pursues a suspect, but also when she goes on a date in a completely different – sensual – guise.

Winslet shows on screen the extraordinary plasticity of her face. In frequent close-ups we can see alternately her black eyes and neglected complexion, and at other times the perfect starting makeup. And one and the other character – this is the same person, so to speak, two facets of femininity. It must be admitted that in this role the actress showed not only acting artistry, but also courage. In the era of the cult of beauty and youth and obsessively enhancing the beauty of celebrities, showing up in such an appearance is quite a challenge, which Winslet bravely met. Moreover, making Mare the main character of the series is a noteworthy procedure. After all, cinema does not offer many interesting roles for middle-aged actresses, and certainly not leading ones. Meanwhile, in “Mare of Easttown” we get a spectacularly drawn character with whom many women can identify. It is also worth mentioning that this is a multidimensional heroine, as she is not defined only by her professional function or her role as a grandmother. Mare’s erotic life, her female longings and dreams are also openly shown.

“Mare of Easttown” – where does the trauma come from?

The HBO series directed by Brad Ingelsby is a successful combination of the conventions of detective fiction and psychological cinema. Almost every character here received an in-depth internal portrait. What’s more, the personal fates of the characters are intertwined not only in a plot sense, but there is also some commonality of experience. Mare, but also the other people in the story, are struggling with serious traumas from the past. These are extremely painful tragedies: the death of a child, drug addiction, domestic violence, or betrayal.

Mare of Easttown series 2021

Mare of Easttown” is a series that, in a sense, shows how trauma is born and why it is so difficult to deal with it. Trauma is namely suffering that is not noticed by others and accepted. It is also painful experiences that, for various reasons, are considered taboo in society, so they are hidden and marginalized. Unspoken pain, however, cannot be kept locked in the attic for long, as Mare tries to do. Sooner or later it will crawl out on its own and claim its place, become a trauma poisoning every ordinary moment of everyday life.

“Mare of Easttown” – a town in shades of gray

The dominant visual impression when watching the HBO series “Mare of Easttown” is the view of gray. Photographed in monochromatic, faded colors, the American town gives the impression of a bleak world, trapped in overwhelming mundanity and monotony. It’s not just the stagnant atmosphere of the province, which, by the way, painfully makes itself known to the residents. The grayness interacts primarily with the mental condition of the characters. For everyone here is struggling with difficult experiences and everyone carries a greater or lesser stigma of guilt.

Indeed, it must be emphasized that none of the characters is crystalline. Also Mare’s behavior raises moral questions at many points. Her relationship with her daughter-in-law and her undignified methods of fighting for custody of her grandson or the way she interrogates suspects are clear cracks in her image. However, Mare is supposed to be like this, just like other Easttown residents: with human weaknesses, flaws and downfalls. “Mare of Easttown” shows that to some extent we are all entangled in evil and it is impossible to get through life without rubbing up against it. However, I have the impression that the ultimate conclusion of the series is not the relativization of crimes and easy absolution. It seems that despite the various shades of gray, there is still a real darkness here, which is why Mare recognizes that justice must be served. After all, revealing the truth is the raison d’être of morality, the last thing separating light from darkness.