Review: Here’s the true crime of Hulu’s “Candy”

Despite its many flaws, Hulu’s “Candy” certainly understands the terror of the repressed housewife – the one she feels and the one she instills in others. Michael Uppendahl set the tone in the direction of the first episode with a close-up of Jessica Biel’s Candy Montgomery’s face as she rehearses a story to tell her vacation Bible school children.

Giggling warmly in places, she weaves a fable about a beautiful sapling that does everything well. Then she frowns when a lumberjack enters the picture and, despite the tree’s protests, cuts it down. The supposedly happy ending is that the wood from the tree ends up being used to make Jesus’ cross.

And the moral of this story? “Next time you’re sad because you didn’t get what you wanted, wait!” she chirps, “Because God has something even better for you.”

RELATED: Mother’s Day is Gaslighting

Candy Montgomery delivered 41 blows to the mutilated body of Betty Gore, while the woman’s infant daughter cried in an adjoining room.

To know the case of Candy Montgomery is to recognize the layers of obvious and more subtle metaphors in this morality piece. In 1980, Montgomery attacked her friend Betty Gore (Melanie Lynskey) with an ax in what she claimed was an act of self-defense, which very well could have been.

The part of the crime that still baffles people to this day, other than the outcome of the trial, is the detail that Montgomery delivered 41 blows to Gore’s mutilated body, all while the woman’s infant daughter cried in an adjoining room.

The ferocity of the act goes against Candy’s image as a pillar of the church, devoted mother and faithful wife in her small Texas community. She may not wear the classic apron and heels of the desperate housewife, but Biel’s titular character and Lynskey’s walking sacrifice embody the victim-virago dichotomy that has warped generations of women.

But while series co-creator Robin Veith telegraphs through Candy’s Bible-inspired fiction, her flawless Madonna self-portrait is as fraudulent as her fable. Nevertheless, she smiles insistently through the ridiculous idea that it is better for a tree to die and be turned into an instrument of torture than to let it live and grow alone.

“Candy” rarely stands out from the slew of similarly themed dramas vying for our attention, which will soon include another take on this affair starring Elizabeth Olsen and Lily Rabe coming to HBO Max later this year.

But as an examination of how society connects a woman’s worth to her desirability and willingness to conform to society’s limited expectations of her, it achieves many moments of painful lucidity. That sting could be as much about the moment we’re living in as it is about Biel and Lynskey’s performances, each of which makes us feel the misery of their characters in unique ways.

Melanie Lynskey as Betty Gore and Jessica Biel as Candy Montgomery in “Candy” (Tina Rowden/Hulu)Mainly their pain is related to their marriages. Both Candy and Betty are married to good men, but they are also boring and have no ambition to be better. Candy’s wife, Pat (Timothy Simons), is a wonderful father, but takes her for granted. when she asks him if he doesn’t want to date other men, he lovingly informs her that she and the kids are the only friends he needs.

Biel’s titular character and Lynskey’s walking sacrifice embody the victim-virago dichotomy that has twisted generations of women.

Lynskey plays Betty as an idle woman in a state caught between sweetness and fury, which for her husband Allan (Pablo Schreiber) translates into need. On the day of her death, shown in the first episode, she begs him not to make the last of his business trips.

But as she sits deflated in postpartum funk at home, Candy bustles with purpose, her tight joy covering the less charitable side of her personality.

When “Candy” takes flight in the second and third episodes, it’s because Biel and Lynskey make us feel something for these women and the lack of choice they have in life outside of the roles of wife and of mother.

Biel is especially lively when Candy bulldozes the rooms with a bright smile and a singsong voice, trying to exert power where she has none and gently intimidating those she can with fake kindness, including Betty. .

Lynskey’s exceptional take on Betty is that of a conquered soul trying to squeeze her way from one end of a dark day to the other, her old-fashioned clothes and hideous bangs conspiring to condemn her to permanent invisibility.

Candy

Melanie Lynskey as Betty in “Candy” (Tina Rowden/Hulu)Candy has an equally awful wardrobe topped with a skull-squeezing perm and giant glasses, which Biel materializes by abruptly scrunching up every aspect of her portrayal.

Candy is a performer and planner, sometimes in comedic fashion, though the harvest gold filter that colors the visuals drives away the will to laugh. Yet there’s something tragically funny about a woman who plans a life-altering transgression by building a professional presentation around it. And she executes this wrongdoing with equal measure of precision and callousness, later speaking as if it were a dream sequence in one of the cheap romance novels she’s in. escapes.

Aficionados of television and film history will find a few details to appreciate in “Candy,” including its thematic nods to so-called “women’s movies.”

These are the sequences through which “Candy” realizes its potential as a critique of Christian patriarchal hypocrisy in the way these close-knit communities fight and betray each other with unrealistic and demanding expectations. This goes for the way Candy and the other women in the church turn around, but also for the men in their lives, none of whom have much to do outside of work and being married.

Once the police work seeps into the fourth episode, introducing a few cameos designed to trend on social media without adding much meat, even that assessment loses its bite with the accent of the story.

Granted, you’ll see many of its chasms before it happens, mostly through Schreiber and Simons, two indistinct roles that leave these otherwise capable actors with little wiggle room.

Candy

Melanie Lynskey as Betty and Pablo Schreiber as Allan in “Candy” (Tina Rowden/Hulu)Arguably their uselessness may be the point; At Betty’s funeral, her father told the grieving Allan, “She was so beautiful, loving, smart, college-educated, so full of life! She had her choice. And she chose you“Even if that was the intention, there is a way to write such characters without losing their place in the story. But that didn’t happen here.


Want a daily recap of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.


Aficionados of television and film history will find some details worth appreciating in “Candy,” including its thematic nods to so-called “women’s films” the melodrama studios had the habit of dismissing but, in a real way, informing the true kind of the crime. It’s a clever stylistic nod from Veith, a “Mad Men” alum who co-created the series with Nick Antosca. Hulu is building on the retro style they created, augmented with Ariel Marx’s spare score, by releasing its five parts every night this week, in the style of a prime-time miniseries. old-fashioned network.

But much like those that have lost audiences over time, “Candy” ceases to stick with us at the end, closing in on a resolution that dissolves into nothingness. Fortunately, this case will be reopened in a few months, but its wasted potential is still frustrating.

The five-part “Candy” series airs a new episode every night, Monday, May 9 through Friday, May 13. Watch a trailer below, via YouTube.

More stories like this:

#Review #Heres #true #crime #Hulus #Candy

Leave a Comment