Right from the stylish opening credits and the excellent soundtrack that accompanies them I was hooked on this brilliant murder mystery thriller.
Woody Harrelson and Matthew Mcconaughey are on career best form as Marty and Rust, two New Orleans detectives investigating a ritualistic murder from 1995. The story and the case plays out in various time frames - the original investigation in 95 as well as 2002 and the present day. The murder itself and the identity of the killer or killers is almost secondary at times, it's the issue that drives the plot but True Detective is as much about the men doing the hunting, their lives and relationships etc.
It may not be for everyone as it's not told at a breakneck pace and Mcconaugheys character does love a good philosophical debate/rant. It's more of a slower, steady, tense build to a dramatic conclusion. I found it to be gripping and enthralling, it really gets under your skin. Like much of the best tv stuff these days it plays out almost like a 7/8 hour movie. The cast, director and production values are all of the highest standard - as well as the aforementioned lead roles, Michelle Monaghan is also excellent as Marty's wife and there's strong support across the board.
I'd recommend it very highly, especially to fans of The Wire or David Finchers Zodiac.
on 26 June 2014
This has been the most exhilarating experience on television this year. 'True Detective' is is crime drama like nothing you have seen before. Yes, perhaps one can see facets of other highly-rated series we may have watched over the years but no other series has come close to what 'True Detective' has achieved. It gets under your skin. Period.
The acting from all players is is sterling but Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are just too good, especially McConaughey but then his character is more layered and his dialogue, especially his philosophizing, is just so rich. The story is gothic, wrapped in the now familiar hunt for a serial killer but never done like this before to this extent. The storytelling is detailed, the conversations authentic, the acting intense and the dreariness, the futility of peoples lives and the inevitability of death just oozes of the screen and slaps you right in the face.
The story is essentially the hunt for a serial killer across seventeen years but the horror is only part of the tale. The relationship between the detectives, their individual world-view and their relationship with those around them takes center-stage. The setting is Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina and the multiple time-lines show the initial investigation in 1995 which then forms the background to the present day where a new killing is being investigated by two other detectives but where the m.o. points to the same killer. All of the episodes are excellent but the brief glimpse of the killer in Episode 3 and the sustained tension towards the end of Episode 4 stand out as does the climatic action sequence.
I encourage you to buy and watch this series in two sittings over a long weekend on balmy nights. You will not be disappointed. The blu-ray set has plenty of special features including commentaries and interviews and more besides.
on 14 June 2014
Far more cinematic, powerfully acted, beautifully written (with the most quotable dialogue ever) and filmed than any movie I've seen in the last 10 years. And I'm quite the cinephile.
The dynamic pairing of McConaughey and Harrelson shows what film chemistry is all about. Harrelson has never, ever been better (and this work reminds you of just how great he can be), but McConaughey blows the roof off and, adding to his exemplary run of intense, devastating recent performances (Dallas Buyers Club, Mud, Killer Joe, etc.), he makes an easy-to-defend case for his being the greatest actor working today.
Less a serial killer thriller or police procedural than a psychological study of two broken men, True Detective adroitly mixes noir, Southern Gothic horror, drama and black comedy to come up with an original formula that is bound to be much copied, but never equalled.
You'll never get Rust Cohle out of your head though. You have been warned. The musical score is to die for, brilliantly compiled by T. Bone Burnett.
on 13 January 2016
The first season of True Detective is one of the most gripping crime thrillers I have ever had the pleasure to see. Ever since I saw it on HBO, I was looking for a great physical release to add to my collection, and I am happy I waited for this steelbook release before I got one.
The steelbook itself is one of my most favourite ones ever since I purchased it around it's release date. The artwork is mesmerizing, wicked and crazy just like the show. I generally love embossed steelbooks and this one doesn't have any emboss on it, but the paint work is done perfectly as it can be seen from the close-up photo I am posting. It's one of the few cases where I believe embossing would actually ruin the final artwork rather than improve on it.
It is great that the steelbook has it's own slipcover to keep it safe from dust and scratches, even though I would love it more if there wasn't a huge blue Blu-ray logo on the front of the slipcover, since the whole artwork concept is created with black and white with red for an accent. The blue logo could be easily omitted or included as a separate cardboard sheet that could be removed from the final concept.
Ever since I purchased this steelbook, I am waiting for more Mondo artwork releases and can't wait to see some great movies or TV shows released with such steelbooks. I hope Amazon would continue to release these with such awesome artwork.
Well, HBO have done it again. Their trademark production values, attention to detail, masterful casting and world-class writing have yet again combined to bring us an astonishing bit of TV drama.
The mood is set from the outset by the brilliant opening credits accompanied by the perfect country murder ballad (Far From Any Road by the Handsome Family) and throughout the show the music sets the tenor perfectly. The score and cinematography combine to conjure an atmosphere densely grim, grimy and oppressive, redolent with Louisiana heat and humidity as the plot flows from one run-down ramshackle backwoods hovel to another.
The initial plot folllows the present day review of an old 1995 murder case with interviews with the two main protagonists (`Rust' Cohle - Matthew McConaughey and Marty Hart - Woody Harrelson) with flashback sequences detailing the action. This engrossing format continues as the case unfolds following murder and child abduction deep into the seedy underbelly of the American Deep South. The tension and pace are deftly managed as the relationship between Rust and Marty unravels during the investigation with Rust's obsessive, almost Aspberger's-like behaviour and Marty's philandering adding personal strains to an already overbearingly tense investigation.
Both lead actors play their parts perfectly; McConaughey is absolutely astonishing while Harrelson, by no means one of our favourite actors, is actually perfectly cast, despite all of the chin-out pouting hard-face thing that he does. They both play deeply flawed, utterly plausible characters to perfection and the supporting cast dovetail perfectly with their performance.
It is hard to heap too much praise on this incredible production. On the surface it is only a TV cop-buddy show but there is so much depth and atmosphere that you're dragged into its steamy, swampy depth from the first note of the opening credits. Fantastic stuff and there's another season (although not with the same cast - this time starring Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn) currently in production.
This is a spellbinding series starting with the first note of the Handsome Family's opening Southern gothic song "Far from any road", to the excruciatingly tense last episode. "True Detective" amounts to the greatest binge television event of 2014 leaving the viewer begging for more. This reviewer stayed in the house on the hottest day of the year glued to screen and sweating profusely after watching 5 episodes in a row. A week later Disc One was back in the DVD to watch it all again. Every now and then a series comes to the screen where all the working parts are in prime condition and its cast list so perfect that to suggest a potential tweak would be a form of sacrilege.
On the surface the plot is a humid New Orleans noir thriller around a lengthy search for a serial killer full of looming violence, warped relationships, shadowy cops, twisted elites and derelict plantations. This is not a visual shocker indeed its brilliant writer Nic Pizzolatto admitted that he had "literally no interest in serial killers, no interest in trying to shock or gross people out with portrayals of gore". In every sense the show is far more concerned with bigger themes of the human condition and our individual meagre impact in universal terms. The monologues in the series on human nature and existence, time and space, love and morality and the possibility of forces of light and evil are a source of sheer genius.
At the heart of "True Detective" are two master actors who both have their roots in comedy. Woody Harrelson has come a long way since the dimwitted saint "Woody" of the Cheers Bar. Here he is a deeply flawed macho "good ole boy" with good heart and traditional southern sensibilities. He plays Martin Hart a family man but a philanderer, he cannot abide questioning of God but he is not religious, he is driven by alcohol and a liar to his family. Harrelson's portrayal is rock solid and in any other series he would dominate proceedings. And yet by his is side in a dysfunctional cop partnership is "Rust Cohle" played by Matthew McConaughey. Quite when McConaughey blossomed from a rather average rom-com staple to one of America's greatest actors is hard to pinpoint. His performances in "Mud", "The Wolf of Wall Street" and his peerless lead in the "Dallas Buyers Club" have revealed an acting giant. Here as Cohle he is a crime fighting Nietzsche with a Southern drawl to die for and the torment of being an hallucinating insomniac far to clever for this world. He dominates the screen with such charisma that its difficult to part your gaze. The dialogue between Cohle and Hart is a masterclass of scriptwriting. It is often humorous, sometimes profound and perfectly executed. At one point Cohle tells Hart about his nihilistic view of the human predicament stating that "maybe the honourable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction, one last midnight - brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal." He is a master interrogator of witnesses and casually informs a women confessor that "The newspapers are gonna be tough on you. And prison is very, very hard on people who hurt kids. If you get the opportunity, you should kill yourself." It is difficult to convey the force of Cohle's words and that is because they must be heard passing through the lips of the superb McConaughey.
Around these two actors are a superb cast and a particular mention should go to the impressive Michelle Monaghan as Hart's long suffering wife. Another star also present is the Louisiana landscape, the spooky Spanish moss, the boarded-up houses, the roads seemingly heading nowhere and the sub cultures of voodoo and carnival. Finally this is all topped off with T Bone Burnett's marvellous soundtrack ranging from artists like Lucinda Williams to Grinderman. There was once a time when it was cinema which advanced the art of form through the visual screen with brilliant directors like Scorcese, Cimino, Copella and Lucas. Today it is television and particularly the cutting edge network commissioning of HBO that rules the roost. They should be congratulated once again for "True Detective" is utterly magnetic television.
McConaughey and Harrelson play two local detectives who are being interviewed by State Police, in the present time, about their roles in the past(1995) during which their job was to track down the killer of a prostitute who had been ritually tortured and murdered.
It's hinted at that the interviews are to cover gaps in the procedural or that there is the possibility of the killer reemerging again or even that one of the detectives may have been guilty of the crime himself----we, the audience, are not totally sure until the episodes move along and more of the original investigation is revealed.
That investigation is shown in depth in flashback together with detailed information about the two detectives,their life-styles, their strengths and weaknesses and their failures and successes during the search for the killer.
Knowing this set-up of the style of the series does help in following what is happening as the episodes progress. I found it complicated as sometimes happens when a story is told in flashback and continually interchanges with the present.
For me it was worth sticking with True Detective as the finale was stunning and rewarding, and well worth the heaps of awards that this 1st season received.
My copy is the Spanish / English version which has English subtitles included,a must for me as some of the dialogue was very Southern-USA accented. It is set in Louisiana.
Here’s the thing: I could summarise the plot of HBO’s True Detective in 200 words and you’d probably stop me before the end. “Yeah, yeah,” you’d say, “tell me something I don’t know.” And it would be true – the description would sound like a thousand police dramas you’ve seen before: the mismatched cop partners, the baffling murder case that has dragged on for many years without being solved, strange symbols with hints of devil worship, endless witness tracking and interrogations, chases and shootings, opposition from within the police hierarchy closing ranks, plus the endless misery of personal lives… need I go on?
But this description does not begin to scratch the surface here. True Detective is in fact one of the most powerful slow-burn dramas you will find anywhere, its attention to detail immense, its script taut, its acting painfully intense, its music as atmospheric as its camerawork, its direction neat and thoughtful. This is unquestionably very high class drama, as much about the complex and smouldering relationship between the two principle protagonists, played with a deceptively casual precision by Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, both changing in appearance and demeanour subtly over the lengthy time span covered by the series. Were this a movie, you could expect both to be up for Best Actor, though both were nominated for a host of TV awards.
Taken from my review on my website (copyright Andy Millward)
on 1 June 2015
awesome show and really nice looking steelbook
on 12 March 2014
I could pontificate about the show's philosophical metaphysical slant or how as good as Mcconaughey is in Dallas Buyers Club,Mud & Killer Joe he puts in arguably the best performance a film actor has ever committed to the small screen and therefore his best performance ever not to mention how ridiculously good Harrelson is in it....I could babble on about how the writing has now set the new standard for televised drama's (mini series or full seasons) & the direction come to think of it....At just 8 episodes it has left every other great piece of t.v drama (Thrones,Breaking Bad,Wire,West Wing,Six Feet Under,Twin Peaks,Deadwood,Sopranos) firmly on earth and left our atmosphere....I hope this is the beginning (or some would say a resurgence) of an age of the great mini series,I hope other film actors will look at the two lead's in this & rather than be in awe decide they would like to attempt something similar in quality but I fear this series is just a shooting star,A (chance?) coming together of minds at the right time on the right project that resulted in making a flawless masterpiece.Televison,The medium for foul untruths and beauty warped beyond all recognition can also be a home to true art.