With HBO's "Female horse of Easttown," come for the homicide however stay for Kate Winslet and Jean Shrewd


This analyst arrangement set in a hopeless town is no outing to Glad Valley, however its occupants make it all beneficial 

with its soonest building up shots. First comes a brief look at a processing plant at sunrise, at that point a droopy house, at that point a cemetery. Chief Craig Zobel continues to go with this design hopelessness march such that sets the state of mind like poured concrete: A waiting look shows a road blocked up with blurred houses stuck side by side on one side, with a spoiled toothed jeer making itself look like an old picket fence across the way.

A row of brick chimneys jut into the sky with the rudeness of middle fingers flipping off a sun that reserves its gold for other places, ensuring daylight looks sickly and gray here even when the sky is cloudless. The scenery says so much, setting up the first human vocalization we hear, which is a scream.

Zobel does not make the titular burg look or feel like any place you'd want to visit, or end up, or have a breakdown. But the way Kate Winslet realizes Detective Mare Sheehan persuades you to stick with it past its glum first hour. If you  manage to do this, the show just might grow on you.

First, though, one must overlook the seven-part limited series' resemblance to any number of working-class grim tales about murder in small towns, Sally Wainwright's "Happy Valley" foremost among them. The parallels can't be ignored, since both stories follow middle-aged cops in places where everybody knows her and everyone else, and nurse resentments with the same level of care and devotion they give to their own children.

Of the two series, "Happy Valley" is top-notch, whereas this is more of a muddle elevated by superb performances. That shouldn't count out what Winslet, Jean Smart and the other women at the heart of "Mare of Easttown" offer. 

The characters are the reason to stick with this show as opposed to the murder and missing persons cases, starting with Winslet's performance. She gives Mare the spirit of a woman who spent years waking up swinging with all she's got and doesn't have time to grieve even though her life has given her many reasons to crumble.

Winslet doesn't entirely engage in the Emmy bait tactic of putting her vanity into a drawer here, and it's hard to decide whether the way she arches her Os against the roof of her mouth is the work of a regional dialect coach or accent slippage. 

But she does an admirable job of wearing the town's exhaustion on her body, trudging around with a slight hunch to her shoulders, sucking down her exasperation in endless clouds of vape smoke. She has a way of making the character's anger sit there, an unexploded munition that's still decidedly live. And while that should make her imposing, it has the opposite effect on the people around town who expect her to solve all of their problems.

Mare and her ex-husband Frank (David Denman) broke up, and although they get along enough to raise their grandson, their relationship is only slightly amicable for a slow reveal of reasons best left to viewing. He's found a way to move on while she very purposefully stagnates.

Somehow, the way Winslet plays this draws you in and makes you hopeful for whatever shots at goodness comes her way like the fluttering fascination she inspires in Guy Pearce's Richard, a literature professor sanguine about being past his prime.