SoHo Pre-Empts Babylon for HBO Drama


SoHo’s had to postpone next month’s premiere of Babylon because Channel 4 has not yet scheduled the police drama.

It was tentatively slated for November but Channel 4 has still to announce a date.

SoHo contractually can’t screen programmes until after they’ve screened in their native country, so it’s having to replace Babylon with an HBO miniseries that may be even better.

Olive Kitteridge stars Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins as a couple — she’s a teacher, he’s a pharmacist — living in a small New England town rife with illicit affairs, crime and tragedy; Bill Murray and Top of the Lake’s Peter Mullan co-star.

According to the blurb, “Like the award-winning book on which it is based, Olive Kitteridge weaves together several interlocking stories, all linked by the titular character Olive, who despite, and sometimes because of, her abrasive manner has significant impact on the lives of those around her.

“Though many of the characters are filled with complex emotional struggles, the heaviness of the miniseries’ themes – depression, adultery, suicide – is underscored by moments of truly unexpected and subtle humour.”

Variety praised Dormand’s “remarkably complex portrayal” and decision to option and develop Elizabeth Strout’s collection of short stories.

“Even more so than 2011’s Mildred Pierce, this finely crafted, wonderfully cast meller suggests a promising new life for the women’s-picture genre on nets willing to let such stories breathe.”

“Unhurried but amply rewardingOlive Kitteridge is an all-around class act and a credit to everyone concerned,” The Hollywood Reporter said.

“The sense of how a small community interacts, with friendships and frictions evolving over time just like the downtown storefronts, is depicted with fine brushstrokes.”

At the miniseries’ world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, where the Daily Telegraph hailed it as “rich, intricately connected“,  McDormand told journalists and critics that “90 minutes, the typical film length, is not long enough to tell a female story.

“The buddy story, the action movie and the film noir can all be told relatively briefly, and it’s no coincidence that these tend to be stories about men.

“Then there’s the rom-com, but unless you’re George Cukor or Preston Sturges, it’s hard to write something rich at that length.

“Four hours is what you need to tell a female story. Six hours is even better, or 10. Our stories are circular and complex, and they take longer than 90 minutes.”

For scheduling convenience, SoHo will screen Olive Kitteridge in four hour-long instalments whereas HBO will run it in two two-hour blocks.

Olive Kitteridge will screen 8.30 Thursdays from November 6, four days after its HBO debut.

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