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‘Love & Death’ – Review

‘Love & Death’ – Review


The true crime drama continues to grip audiences with an iron-like grip and one of America’s most shocking legal cases, the sordid true life story of adulteress axe murderer Candy Montgomery is brought to audiences in the gripping new miniseries Love & Death.

Candy Montgomery (Elizabeth Olsen) is a quiet housewife who, overnight, decides to have an affair with her neighbour. But the relationship soon spirals out of control when her lover’s wife is found dead and all suspicion falls on her.

In the quiet town of Wylie, Texas in early 1980 a shocking murder occurred with the killing of Betty Gore in a sensational and brutal axe murderer. It was a crime that stunned the American population, and the sensational trial that followed, which focused on the cheerful and much beloved local resident Candy Montgomery gripped the nation, and the resulting verdict would make an infamy of the case. It’s this sordid tale that series creator David E. Kelley brings to the small screen in Love & Death. And audiences will be completely taken by surprise by this series.

Love & Death is a narrative that works in the most systematic way and piece by piece we see the events that lead up to the shocking murder of Betty Gore, and the sensational criminal trial that followed. While audiences may be used to the true crime genre, Love & Death moves in a different direction and this is a series with its own unique sense of tact. Love & Death delivers a mood that I would best describe as ‘sinister sweetness’ and as the series begins to move at pace towards an unholy outcome, its narrative worms its way under the audience’s skin.

As she is prone to do Elizabeth Olsen once again stuns with her performance as the demure, chipper and seemingly perfect middle-American housewife Candy Montgomery. Pretty, prim and oh-so-proper, on the outside Candy is the perfect portrait of what it means to be a wife and mother in middle America during the early 1980s. But she’s not content with her easy-going life, and this bland existence soon leads her to look for other thrills and this leads her into a wanton affair with her neighbour Allan Gore (Jesse Plemmons). What begins as an almost cheeky-business-like arrangement, soon becomes much more explicit and naughty, and Candy’s actions lead to one hell of a frightening exchange with Gore’s wife Betty (Lily Rabe).

Olsen showcases a range of characteristics as Candy and her performance is almost two-faced in the role. She’s the sweet-minded and thoughtful mom and choir woman one moment, and then a chilling, psychologically flawed murderess the next. It’s a complicated performance and she handles this character in the most excellent way and audiences won’t be able to look away. Olsen’s performance is what leads this series to be addicting and episode by episode this narrative gets more intriguing.

Top marks also need to be directed to Olsen’s male co-stars who include the likes of Jesse Plemons as Allan Gore, the man who Candy engages in an affair with and who is played with a sense of downbeat normalcy by Plemmons; Patrick Fugit as Candy’s loveless husband Pat, whose lack of attention leads Candy into her affair with Allan and Tom Pelphrey as the loud mouth and brazen lawyer Don Crowder, who takes on Candy’s case and is determined to win by any means necessary. Pelphrey has a real presence in the series as Crowder and he makes a hell of an impression on audiences as the bombastic Don, while Plemmons makes for a considerable sleazeball as the quiet and mousey Alan and makes him out as a very unsettling character.

There’s plenty of psychological edge to keep audiences keyed into Love & Death, and this series delivers one hell of a final punch at the very end. It’s an addictive watch that will keep you guessing step by step and is an incredible performance on behalf of Elizabeth Olsen.

Image: SKY TV