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DVD Review: Bloodline


DVD Review: Bloodline

by Diane McCurdy

It used to be that TV was the stepchild of the performing arts family. It accommodated players on their way up or on their way down. No longer. Those in the know would say that the better writing is on TV. Another phenomenon is that fact that lending facilities have used their gigantic subscriber bases to morph into production companies attracting A-listers such as Brad Pitt while pushing their product into Russia, China and South America.

The Netflix series, Bloodline, is a stand out in this new marketing. A superbly suffocating noir, it is set in the humid southern coast of Florida featuring the decidedly dysfunctional Rayburn tribe. There are four surviving siblings one having been tragically drowned before adulthood. Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard are the matriarch and the patriarch of the brood and they watch over them from a very successful beachfront hotel. The plot revolves around the return of Danny, the prodigal son. Australian actor, Ben Mendelsohn, gives a bravura performance making his character, at once, compelling and repulsive. At times there is over view narration and tantalizing flashbacks that give hints but don't reveal essentials. The viewer is immediately hooked.

Danny is a classic manipulator, a hard drinking, chain smoking sociopath. Chloe Sevigny, whose talents are under used here, is his girlfriend. The eldest son and paterfamilias in waiting is Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) a deputy sheriff who frets and fumes and tries to make allowances for his relatives. The third son is an alcoholic under achiever who is as weak as his siblings are strong. Megan the youngest, Linda Cardellini, is a feisty, randy attorney. put all theses people together with the cocaine trade and human trafficking in the background and the result is a kind of fetid soup. Most of all Bloodline is atmospheric turning a near Eden into a Hellish black hole. The setting becomes a character. Guilt is palpable, smothering, festering and so addictingly interesting to watch.

Kyle Chandler received an Emmy nomination for his role as lead actor in a dramatic series and Ben Mendelsohn got a nod for supporting actor. Mendelsohn is a force of nature in his career making role as Danny, the bad son. Bloodline is “bingeable” with 13 episodes in Season 1 and 10 in season 2 directly accessed from Netflix streaming capabilities  but it will be available soon on DVD and the series has just been given the green light for season 3.