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Black Bird review – Ray Liotta is heartbreaking in this posthumous prison drama | Television

Black Bird review – Ray Liotta is heartbreaking in this posthumous prison drama |  Television

YYou can feel the maximum out of the crime drama at the moment, and in that case I would completely understand. Recent offers have included stories of murder (Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile gave Ted Bundy even more prominence while The Serpent followed drug dealer and serial killer Charles Sobhraj), justice abortions (When They See Us, about Central Park Five), human suffering caused by greed and corruption (Dopesick, on the American opioid crisis), and various manifestations of misogyny and testaments to endemic sexual violence (Unbelievable, Lost Girls, The Staircase). But it’s well worth tightening your loins to go another round with dramatized depravity for the new limited series Black Bird (Apple TV +).

Developed by crime writer Dennis Lehane from James Keene’s 2010 memoir In With the Devil, Taron Egerton stars as Keene – and acquits himself brilliantly in a part that is as far removed from his latest lead role as Elton John in Rocketman as possible. to be.

Little Jimmy Keene is the charming / arrogant, high-flying, drug-dealing son of the longtime police officer Big Jim (Ray Liotta, in one of his last roles). Little Jimmy’s carefree days come to an abrupt end when his apartment is raided, his father’s connections and a prayer do not come to life, and he ends up with 10 years in prison without parole. A few months after the verdict, FBI agent Lauren McCauley (Sepideh Moafi) offers him a deal. He will move to a facility with maximum security that is mostly populated by criminally insane people as long as it takes to become friends and get a confession from the suspected serial killer Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser), before Hall’s appeal goes through and he is released. McCauley believes Jimmy has the charm and intelligence to succeed, and if he does, he will be free.

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All of this takes about an hour and a half, which may feel too slow for many viewers. But it is worth the investment. We first meet Larry – a man with clear cognitive deficits, but exquisitely pitched and acted without any recourse to the usual tics or tropes – in flashback, during the FBI investigations led by detective Brian Miller (Greg Kinnear) and posted by McCauley. Larry is a serial confessor to various crimes, but did he actually commit the murders of up to 14 girls that they suspect him of?

Black Bird review – Ray Liotta is heartbreaking in this posthumous prison drama |  Television
A new round of dramatized corruption… Paul Walter Hauser and Taron Egerton in Black Bird. Photo: Gavin Bond / Apple TV +

It’s when Jimmy and Larry meet in jail that Black Bird really starts flying. Suspicion gives way to tolerance, becomes fragile friendships and then turns into something much more twisted and smoother. As doubts arise among the FBI and the police about Larry’s guilt or innocence, Jimmy becomes increasingly appalled at the points of contact between them. There are fantastic two-handed men who begin with Jimmy leading the conversation where he wants it to go, only to find himself swung up and around by Larry’s seemingly free associative thoughts and sitting in front of a dark mirror to face an unwelcome truth. Lehane is a well-known thriller writer and was a writer on The Wire, but this allusive, shifting dialogue may be his best work to date.

Add to that the central conceit of a corrupt guard who intends to extort money from Jimmy, and various other prisoners for whatever blood they may receive, and you have plenty of action to keep things going. And in the midst of it all, Liotta, like the tough father who is devastated by the failure of his son, is unable to pull him out of the swamp and face his own unwelcome truths in the sudden silence that was forced upon him. He breaks your heart. It’s a nice note to leave on.

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