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Olive Obsessed

When I read Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge a few years ago, I was floored. And wowed. And gobsmacked. It had been a long while since a book had such a HUGE impression on me, one that has lingered to this day. I read the book only once, but kept telling myself to go back to it. The only reason I didn’t, I think, is because when I get that deeply involved in something, it’s all consuming. Meaning, at the sacrifice of everything else, like good hygiene and remembering to feed the cat.

So when HBO released its mini series Olive Kitteridge last month, I was hesitant. Hesitant because films are rarely as a good as the book and hesitant because November is a hectic month and becoming consumed again was the last thing I needed.

But I kept seeing people talk about it online, so I finally gave in.

Yep, obsessed again.

  • I’ve watched it 2.5 times (I’m halfway through the second part for the third time…did you follow that?).
  • I’ve developed a wicked crush on the actor Richard Jenkins who plays Henry, Olive’s long-suffering husband. He is excellent. I can’t stress this enough.
  • I’ve decided I want to sit and have a coffee or glass of wine with Frances McDormand because she fucking rocks. I loved her in Fargo and I’d forgotten until I remembered that she was in Moonrise Kingdom. She’s wonderful, and I love the fact she fell in love with this book as I did and that she so tenderly shepherded it to the screen.
  • Bill Murray. Jesus. He’s pretty much fantastic in everything he’s appeared in over the last decade plus. This is no exception.
  • John Gallagher, Jr. I got to know him in The Newsroom. Here, he plays Olive’s son and does so with such maturity and wisdom and poise.
  • The rest of the cast is excellent as well. Too many awesome people to get into here.

The setting. THE SETTING.

I read the novel during the late fall, early winter, and I think it influenced my read. I remember describing the book like this: it’s like watching the sun set on a Cape Cod beach in the dead of winter.

Unless you’ve ever experienced that, you probably won’t get what I mean, but if you have — if you can feel the chill in your bones and the wind on your face and see the milky orb against the pale pink sky as it sinks into the dark gray water and you sense that part desperate, part joyous, part awe struck feeling it produces in your soul, then you get it.

That’s what I experienced when I watched this film for the first time and second time and two-point-five time.