Welcome to my Sunday Movie Review. Yes, a movie review is what I have for you this week as I have found that reading four books at one time isn’t a time-saver, lol. But, I’m into them and if I would’ve stopped bouncing around books and finish one, I’d have been prepared. But I do have a movie review – or shall I say, a four-part mini-series review for Elizabeth Strout’s – Olive Kitteridge. The book garnered a lot of attention and I’d had it on my TBP (to be purchased) list and then I came across the mini-series on HBO and was hooked. I will preface my review below by saying this is a character-driven movie (book), not plot-driven. Why I emphasize this is because some readers who leave bad reviews for a book of this calibre, clearly miss the point that this is a character depiction story, not a thriller. You have to go deep on this one, which I enjoy, but for some who felt disappointed because they weren’t wowed, and left sad reviews, I suggest checking out the genre and gist of a book before buying it and punishing the authors with lousy reviews.
Do keep in mind, this is the movie version I’m reviewing. But I will say, despite my rule ‘if I’ve seen the movie I don’t read the book, I am still going to read this book. And before I review, I will demonstrate my comment above about the difference in reviews for same book:
Reviewed in the United States on July 14, 2018
Reviewed in the United States on May 24, 2016
At over 1,500 reviews, I know my review won’t make a difference, but I just wrote a negative review, so I felt the need to balance things out. I’ll make this brief.
This is one of the most outstanding novels I’ve ever read. I normally don’t reread books, but this one will be the exception. Stout tells small stories about small people, in a small town, but none of this is small, because Stout reveals that all of our stories–and yes this is an every person type of book, are beautiful. Stout’s empathetic authorial voice is beautiful. Beautiful is a word I use over and over describing this book. Her use of language is heart bracingly beautiful to the point where sometimes I had to put the book down just to absorb the profound pathos she describes.
I promised a short review, so I will conclude by saying my life has been enriched by reading this novel.
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • THE EMMY AWARD–WINNING HBO MINISERIES STARRING FRANCES MCDORMAND, RICHARD JENKINS, AND BILL MURRAY
In a voice more powerful and compassionate than ever before, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Strout binds together thirteen rich, luminous narratives into a book with the heft of a novel, through the presence of one larger-than-life, unforgettable character: Olive Kitteridge.
At the edge of the continent, Crosby, Maine, may seem like nowhere, but seen through this brilliant writer’s eyes, it’s in essence the whole world, and the lives that are lived there are filled with all of the grand human drama–desire, despair, jealousy, hope, and love.
At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance: a former student who has lost the will to live: Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.
As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life–sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition–its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY
People • USA Today • The Atlantic • The Washington Post Book World • Seattle Post-Intelligencer • Entertainment Weekly • The Christian Science Monitor • San Francisco Chronicle • Salon • San Antonio Express-News • Chicago Tribune • The Wall Street Journal
“Perceptive, deeply empathetic . . . Olive is the axis around which these thirteen complex, relentlessly human narratives spin themselves into Elizabeth Strout’s unforgettable novel in stories.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“Fiction lovers, remember this name: Olive Kitteridge. . . . You’ll never forget her. . . . [Elizabeth Strout] constructs her stories with rich irony and moments of genuine surprise and intense emotion. . . . Glorious, powerful stuff.”—USA Today
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • The beloved first novel featuring Olive Kitteridge, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah’s Book Club pick Olive, Again
“Fiction lovers, remember this name: Olive Kitteridge. . . . You’ll never forget her.”—USA Today
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post Book World • USA Today • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • Seattle Post-Intelligencer • People • Entertainment Weekly • The Christian Science Monitor • The Plain Dealer • The Atlantic • Rocky Mountain News • Library Journal
At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.
As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life—sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition—its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.
The inspiration for the Emmy Award–winning HBO miniseries starring Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, and Bill Murray
My 4 Star Movie Review
Every story isn’t for everyone, but if you like deep character study type movies which evoke emotions from short dialogue and physical expression, leaving us as the viewer (or reader) to feel and ponder from each character, and for those who appreciate a protagonist’s lack of displaying emotions, sometimes even pissing us off, which is a sign of good writing and not a reason to hate a book, you’ll like this movie or book.
The movie is portrayed in 13 different vignettes of casual incidences in the lives of small town county people in Maine, interconnected with Olive’s seemingly humdrum life, demonstrating how the things that happen in people’s lives either affect – or don’t affect them. A study of the human condition and how events, status, values, and circumstance contribute into forming people’s behaviors and patterns.
Olive is as complicated as she comes across simple and unemotional with a contrary personality, yet, she’s concerned for others’ welfare. Somewhere inside her there’s a caring person who just doesn’t know how to evolve. She’s judgemental, witty, efficient and a do-the-right-thing type of woman, and probably much more if she allowed herself to reveal herself to herself.
Ordinary lives are accentuated by their vulnerabilities and fragile egos, despair, joy, heartache, loss and grief. Much of the emotion demonstrated by any character in these stories are evoked through actions, non-actions and expression. No, there’s nothing fast-paced here. Each vignette had me paying close attention – hanging on each sentence and observing expression, sometimes without dialogue.
The story casts a darkness in some scenes. But if you are the type who likes to observe character and human nature, and enjoys listening to conversation, you’ll enjoy the story. We’ll get to know Henry, Olive’s pharmacist husband with his big heart – a polar opposite to his wife when it comes to demonstrating compassion, and we’ll learn only near the end about how Olive felt about her husband. And there are plenty people in-between who either love Olive or try to stay far away – like her son Christopher. Truly a story to make us think about the things that happen in our lives having a profound effect on our behaviors.
The reason I took one star away in my review was because I didn’t feel that I learned what had happened in Olive’s prior life to make her so matter-of-fact and expressionless. I think she loved and cared but she couldn’t show it – or displayed in a way that wasn’t blatantly apparent, and as a reader/watcher, I would have liked a bit of back story revealing reason for her lack of demonstrative empathy. I simply wanted to learn what happened or didn’t happen to Olive in her past that made her the unemotional and flawed person she was. But I’ll also add that Frances McDormand did an outstanding performance portraying Olive. And despite the author leaving us to our own interpretations of Olive to evaluate, I highly recommend!