Monday, April 3, 2017

Music is more than a mood

I love when series and movies use music as more than a mood to enhance the setting. My latest of these to fall in love with is Big Little Lies.

Big Little Lies is an HBO miniseries starring Reese Witherspoon as Madeline Martha Mackenzie, Nicole Kidman as Celeste Wright, Shailene Woodley as Jane Chapman, Zoë Kravitz as Bonnie Carlson—all mothers of young children in the same grade. As an act of bullying plays out as one of the many plots of the show, each episode opens with a short clip six months into the future of a murder involving the characters.

A lot of the appeal of Big Little Lies is the soundtrack. Not only does Chloe’s (daughter of Madeline Martha and husband Ed) iPod capture the perfect mood anytime the camera pans to the Mackenzie house, but also many heart wrenching messages are subtly—and sometimes blatantlywoven into the scenes with lyrics.

In episode 6, my heart cracks when Ziggy, son of Jane Chapman, lip syncs  “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” Episode after episode we watch as Ziggy begs any information on his father. We wonder if gun-wielding Jane is actually contemplating murder as revenge on the man who is a mystery not only to his son, but also a nightmarish blur to her, the mother of his child. As Ziggy takes up a choreographic stance and mimics a mic in his hands, she smiles with motherly pride at the first lyrics.

It was the third of September
That day I'll always remember, yes I will

And then her smile falters a little with the next line.

'Cause that was the day that my daddy died

She completely pales when he carries on with the song.

I never got a chance to see him
Never heard nothin' but bad things about him
Momma I'm depending on you to tell me the truth.

**Spoiler alert **
I’m not sure about you, but this is the point where I became positive Jane wouldn’t be the killer in the murder, lingering in the shadows of this show.

Another poignant moment spoken far better with lyrics  than any delivered lines could have ever  done justice to came the night of the climatic fund raiser.

Ed Mackenzie, who has in earlier episodes revealed he feels he comes second to Madeline Martha’s ex-husband Nathan in her affections, takes his place on stage. Even after much practice at home of his intended Elvis cover, "The Wonder Of You", it takes a drink to bolster his courage enough to pour his heart out with these lyrics.

When no-one else can understand me
When everything I do is wrong
You give me hope and consolation
You give me strength to carry on

And you're always there to lend a hand
In everything I do
That's the wonder
The wonder of you

And when you smile the world is brighter
You touch my hand and I'm a king
Your kiss to me is worth a fortune

Your love for me is everything

I'll guess I'll never know the reason why
You love me like you do
That's the wonder
The wonder of you

And then up next is ex husband Nathan with his song choice How’s The World Treating You?"
 which seems to affirm that he feels regret for his divorce with Madeline Martha.

I've had nothing but sorrow
Since you said we were through
There's no hope for tomorrow
How's the world treating you?

Every sweet thing that mattered
Has been broken in two
All my dreams have been shattered
How's the world treating you?

Got no plans for next Sunday
Got no plans for today
Every day is blue Monday
Every day you're away

Every sweet thing that mattered
Has been broken in two
And I'm asking you darling
How's the world treating you?

Listening to those lyrics, Ed knows he’s been right all along about his 'first love fire still burning' suspicions.

Big Little Lies is one I’ll be watching a second time, hoping to catch little things I may have missed the first time. The soundtrack and songs aside, the biggest acclaim I feel this series has is the diverse ways in which these women each with very different upheavals in their lives see themselves, are seen by others, and the ways that they act accordingly.

The playground plot of bullying serves as both a mirror and a catalyst to even bigger things going on behind closed doors.

There were more than a few ways in which I felt disappointed during the finale, but for every loose end seemingly left dangling, and every backstory that should have been expanded a bit more to explain the ending, I give just as many props and nods for the way in which the deep and dark subplots are exposed and handled as they come to light.

Notable subjects tackled head on in a worthy way for such a short series is rape, spousal abuse, bullying, marital affairs, alcoholism, and even human trafficking.

I’ve yet to find a full soundtrack for what seems to have easily been up to a hundred songs, but here’s a couple of lists.

My favorite cover in Big Little Lies is hands down Zoe Kravitz’s cover of “Don’t.”