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‘Olive Kitteridge’ is curtly perfect

Miniseries adaptation of Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of short stories is wonderfully cast 

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If you've had the pleasure of reading Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of short stories, Olive Kitteridge, you're well acquainted with the bated-breath experience of patiently waiting for the unforgettable, almost-insufferable title character to reappear on the pages. HBO fans recently got to experience that same small-town wonder with a remarkable four-part miniseries by the same name now streaming on HBO Go.

Starring Frances McDormand and directed by Lisa Cholodenko (who memorably worked together on 2002's Laurel Canyon), it's wonderfully cast – particularly actress Zoe Kazan's subtly spectacular embodiment of the mousey simpleton Denise Thibodeau. All of Olive's love interests attempt to steal scenes – formidably endearing oddballs, the lot of them, with Richard Jenkins as Olive's twitchy husband, Peter Mullan as the bedraggled work friend Jim O'Casey, and Bill Murray as the opposites-attract widower Jack Kennison. The deep exploration of these characters forms the backbone of the story – which spans an awkward wedding, confronts averted suicide and remains suspended in the cosmic fear of heartbreaking eventualities – but this is McDormand's show, and as the sharp-tongued, honest, ever-braced Olive, she's curtly perfect.

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