Lisey’s Story Review | TV show
The widow of famous author Scott Landon (Clive Owen), Lisey Landon (Julianne Moore) becomes the target of an obsessed stalker, Jim Dooley (Dane DeHaan), who wants to bring Scott’s never-before-seen works into the world. But revisiting Scott’s manuscripts prompts Lisey to consider her husband’s dark past.
Watched episodes: 4 of 8
Broadcast on: Apple TV +
Lisey’s Story’s BTS team could be the backroom creative team for 2021. Executive produced by JJ Abrams, directed by Pablo Larraín de Jackie, written by Stephen King (adapting one of his own favorite novels) and animated by a crack unit of high-end artisans (cinematographer Darius Khondji, production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas and composer Clark), it’s a thoughtful collection of its author’s favorite themes – the relationship between fan and creator, fathers and sons, the play between mythology and metafiction. It’s beautiful to look at and intermittently absorbing, but doesn’t stick like the talent team suggests.
The direct line is fairly straightforward. Two years after the murder of her husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Scott Landon (Clive Owen), widow Lisey (Julianne Moore) – pronounced “ Lee-see ” – begins to be terrorized by the mad Landon fan Jim Dooley, aka Jim Dandy (Dane DeHaan), who wants her to donate Scott’s unreleased materials to a college so that his genius is accessible to everyone. So far, so Misery. But sifting through the effects of her husband leads Lisey to reexamine her husband’s traumatic past at the hands of his father and the alternate (all-in-the-mind) world of Boo’ya Moon, a fantastical haven where Scott and his brother would recover. Lisey also fights with her sister Darla (Jennifer Jason Leigh) over their self-destructive sister Amanda (Joan Allen), currently residing in a mental hospital, who also escapes to Boo’ya Moon (who in her version looks like the Steps by Kurtz. composed in Apocalypse now).
It’s perfectly designed, austere, and elliptical, but it doesn’t do much to stir the blood.
The opening setup has great De Palma opera quality – who doesn’t want to see Julianne Moore slice someone in the face with a shovel? – but, first doors, the episodes offer a strange and rambling beginning. We get flashbacks within flashbacks and the storytelling has a literary rather than cinematic-television quality, lacking in vibrancy and urgency. The elements are intriguing – a pool of restorative powers, the verdant world of Boo’ya Moon, a giant beast-like figure called Long Boy – and Larraín and Khondji conjure up striking images (Lisey and Scott trapped under a willow tree surrounded by precipitation the water). It’s perfectly designed, austere, and elliptical, but it doesn’t do much to stir the blood.
It takes the Jim Dooley-terrorizing-Lisey plot thread to deliver juice. It starts small – threatening phone calls, a dead crow in a mailbox (Moore’s reaction is priceless) – and turns into something much more personal and intense. Sometimes DeHaan’s Dooley makes Annie Wilkes look tight-fitting, weird with a yo-yo, oscillating between a real threat and being ridiculously overdone. Moore has some highlights, whether it’s in family scenes with Allen (excellent) and Leigh or repeatedly banging her head on a car window while she’s driving, but the show never really lights her up. pain or its arc. There are a lot of awesome things about Lisey’s story but, based on this evidence, little to be really excited about.
Lisey’s story, one of Stephen King’s most personal stories, has a lot to admire, but her literary vanities captured in striking but cold films do little to get the pulse beat.