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Abhorrent Aunt Lydia

handmaid-103-aunt-lydia

Just when I was feeling somewhat lost with The Leftovers finishing and currently in a bit of a lull until my TV shows come back on air, the commanding Ann Dowd’s presence was back on my screens with her terrifying role as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale.

I am not going to talk about the brilliance of the show and all the moral, political, ethical thoughts I have about it (for there are many!) – I just wanted to acknowledge that some performances go to the core of you and shake you about.  I watch a tremendous amount of TV, and nothing appeals to me more than a lingering effect a compelling character can have on you. Ann Dowd has crawled under my skin in both these shows.

After a brilliant character portrayal as Patti in The Leftovers, I was curious to see what she would bring to this role. She brings it alright! She owns the scenes she is in. If I was ever going to truly understand the phrase ‘boss lady’ – she would embody it. No nonsense here. I liken her to that of a strict, religious teacher – the types my parents would utter about with such disdain. Every word that barks from her mouth is executed with intonation, elegance and a sense of unwavering control. It lures me into a false sense of trust and what a great  way to enhance the book version of the character – she brings a new dimension to her. She is completely committed to this world, her role, and her compliance to  this new dystopian environment is certain.

Perhaps many viewers will find her the most fascinating as she is a woman  in this outrageous world and yet never lets a slither of an emotional response or an opinion on what is happening to the women be known.  I found myself struggling to process this. I was hoping she would question, rebel. I kept hoping she would falter. Like all good villains she in inherently evil to the core. She is so desensitised and accepts her environment fully. Adapt or die. Comply or die. Void of all compassion and empathy. The heinous acts that Aunt Lydia carries out or orders is nothing short of traumatic. A character of duty who, in her twisted ways, I would like to believe wants the girls to be compliant so that there is no further disruption or pain that they need to necessarily endure.

What a powerhouse performance.

Aunty Lydia is sadistic ultimately in my opinion – I leave you with a comment that revealed much about the psychological make up of this character

‘Remember, said Aunt Lydia, for our purposes your feet and your hands are not essential.’

 

 

Paving The Path-way


downloadI’ve come up from air after my travels abroad and absolutely needed to discuss in a haphazard manner,  the Hulu/Amazon show  –  “The Path” .  It’s quite poor on my part to have left it so late in the game to watch this, but being the dedicated and somewhat accomplished binge watcher that I am, I managed to polish off season one in a weekend. It was on my TV spreadsheet and obviously grabbed my attention with the likes of this cast –  Hugh Dancy, Aaron Paul (just think about that combination for a minute … Will Graham and Jesse Pinkman… are you vibing on that dream combo? )  and the beautiful and powerful force that is Michelle Monaghan. More importantly or perhaps MOST importantly, it was created by Jessica Goldberg (Yay, female) whose writing inspires me. (Refuge, Parenthood to name a few) A quiet, yet powerful force who writes/creates thought provoking scripts, often forcing us to examine human behaviour when tested and the intricacies of relationships. She, and many other talented females in the industry (Meryl Streep this week at the Globes anyone????! ), give me the additional boost I need when I start to wavier with my writing dreams. If you haven’t seen it yet, The Path is about followers of a religious group known as the Meyerist Movement. Jessica, to me is one of the females in the industry paving the pathway for fellow female wannabe writers like myself to look up to and take the lead from.  Instead of an “ authentic voice” that everyone prattles on about – I prefer her unique vision, persistence and the ability to back herself. Give me a much needed healthy dose of that !

The characters are written in such a masterful manner which is brought to life by the accuracy of casting. Their interactions and complicated behaviours make for high stake and impactful drama. The central premise of the movement is the act of “unburdening” themselves and by doing so they can find the “light.” It is how each character responds and engages to this movement that hooks its audience .

We have the charismatic and ever persuasive  Cal Roberts (Dancy) the leader of the movement.  Eddie and Sarah Lane, a couple who have underlying issues  that unfold slowly. I find that  what is not said is particularly powerful between these two characters. We have so many flawed characters in a setting where they are meant to behave in a certain way that is of moral standing. Perhaps I haven’t seen a show in recent times that explores the topics of faith and the devotion of your practice in a modern presentation. We are  exposed to both views – those within the movement and those who are outsiders or skeptics.  It is through the device of clever and well plotted character arcs that we are able to examine these topics – to perhaps be reflective and introspective about our own belief systems and how we engage or interact with this in our own lives or how we perceive others who do so.

Whilst viewing it I am constantly changing my opionions and  I love it! Part of me wants to believe in Cal whole heartedly. Believe his intentions, his forthrightness, his vision.  Fall to my knees and do as he says without question (it is Hugh Dancy after all). Part of me wants to see that darkness be antagonised and watch it manifest and seep out.  I have a few more episodes to go until i finish season one and then I can get stuck into season two. I find most episodes quite jarring in a good way. There are layers upon layers but I love how it is all coming together. I look forward to seeing how the characters unfold and handle the impending situations challenge them. It is deliberately slow and delicious and I cannot wait for season two!

 

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