Bellevue, starring Anna Paquin, on the small screen: a review
Annie Ryder (Anna Paquin) is a detective with boundary problems in the city of Bellevue. In the opening scene, she breaks a stranger's car window and tries to make amends by pressing herself against him, but he ends up shouting at her and kissing her instead. Just a few minutes later, he's pulling her pants down in his motel room so he can snort cocaine out of her cleavage. She reaches for a bottle. When all hope seems lost, however, the door suddenly flies open to reveal two armed police officers.
The romance of the undercover cop who gets too close to the other side of crime is a common theme in movies and TV shows, but this scene has a few tired tropes. However, "Bellevue" focuses more on Annie than on the romance, exploring what it means to constantly blur the lines that demarcate your life, whether those lines are between the past and the present or between the victims and the perpetrators. Even when the plot gets too complicated or the acting gets too over the top, "Bellevue" remains a compelling drama about the intense intimacy of a rural community. Annie's search for answers about what happened to Jesse, a popular hockey player at her high school, evolves into an examination of the town's history and, by extension, her own. It's satisfying that her travels take her where she least suspects they'll lead—to the very center of what's wrong with Bellevue.
The setting is what makes "Bellevue" worth watching, but that may not be enough. The town's not-so-secret drug problems and long-simmering family tensions contribute to its oppressive atmosphere. It's not quite as abrasive as "Rectify" or "Happy Valley," but it's set in the same general area of rural dystopia, with grownups coming to terms with the communities they've yoked their fates to. The town of Bellevue, Ontario, in the Canadian film "Bellevue," is in the middle of a negotiation between the nearby Indian reservation, the town's rabid hockey fans, the town's predominantly Catholic population, and gentrification. The mayor is busy settling a deal for a new brewery, which adds a magnificent touch. The show has an endearing earnestness that is uniquely Canadian; the high school segments sometimes recall "Degrassi" with more dramatic lighting (and better special effects).
The movie "Bellevue" fails when it tries too hard to make the audience feel tense or scared instead of letting those emotions naturally develop. The reader is tasked with solving a series of eerie riddles that, for the most part, don't add anything to the mystery. To make up for it, "Bellevue" tries extremely hard to make the religious symbolism in the crimes and the wordplay in the clues seem terrifying, but the effort is painfully transparent. The movie "Bellevue" has way too many scenes where Annie is foolishly left alone in the dark while ominous music builds up around her, and the audience is practically waiting for the jump scare that is sure to follow. If for no other reason than that a small-town mystery has its own inherent charms, the tangled mystery is more satisfying. This is a typical potboiler, so viewers can guess whodunit from the first episode if they're paying attention, but that doesn't make it any less entertaining. And it's to "Bellevue's" credit that the mystery is resolved in a way that feels thematically complete, rather than leaving the door open for a Season 2 return.
Paquin, whose screen presence ensures an alienating grace from another world, is doing more than meets the eye. Paquin, who also serves as executive producer, plays the lead role and is responsible for conveying the town's ambiance to the audience. It's evident in her home life, which consists of her exe-boyfriend Eddie (Allen Leech), her 12-year-old daughter Daisy (Madison Ferguson), and a tumultuous but loving arrangement. Everyone in a small town knows everyone else's business, but that's part of the charm: Annie doesn't get to pretend to have everything figured out, but she doesn't have to, either. Annie and Eddie were both teenagers when they had Daisy, and their immature, adolescent selves come out in their relationship with each other in ways that are romantic and destructive. It's a familiar likeness in part because it seems so haphazard: Eddie and Annie are on and off, and that's about as settled as it gets with their relationship. Although Leech's accent tends to stray back to his native Ireland, the chemistry between Paquin and him is undeniable. Like with her father's partner, Paquin's relationship with her police chief Peter (Shawn Doyle, always dependable) is wonderful. Their relationship is fraught with misplaced affection and long-buried betrayal, providing the ideal conflict for local police investigating a cold case.
While "Bellevue" doesn't try anything groundbreaking, it does provide a unique spin on the traditional mystery genre that is at once comfortingly predictable and pleasantly modern. The show, developed by director Adrienne Mitchell and writer Jane Maggs, is a fairly standard mystery, but it stands out by being aware of the complexities of gender presentation, whether that be the "dangerous" male or the "vulnerable" female. or the adolescent who struggles but ultimately succeeds in becoming socially isolated because of their gender transition It gives its characters depth and variety, so that you care about them even when the show falters.
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