Posted by: markfender | April 22, 2014

Rectify

You probably missed this show. You probably shouldn’t.

RECTIFY3_560Rectify was the odd man out in the Sundance Channel’s attempts to turn itself into the alt-comedy channel. It’s a serious drama taking place in the deep South that doesn’t have anything to do with hip, indie comedians in LA (or Portland). But it is totally worth watching.

Rectify is the story of Daniel Holden, a death row inmate who’s released on DNA evidence after twenty years. Having gone to jail when he was 18, he’s lived the last 20 years in a single room, communicating with cell mates by shouting through the vents between rooms. Accused of raping and killing another teenager, the town he returns to after his release still hates him, while his family is just attempting to survive.

This show plays with big themes: guilt, acceptance, and forgiveness. It’s certainly not light television. At first, I didn’t really like Aden Young’s portrayal of Daniel. He looks shell-shocked most of the time, except when he goes into long, drawn-out soliloquies. The soliloquies are entertaining, even if unrealistic sounding (I’ll buy that he did nothing but read for the past twenty years, but it still doesn’t sound natural). My big concern was that his speeches were spoken so dryly that I wasn’t sure whether I was witnessing someone acting like they didn’t know how to relate to people, or if Young was just a bad actor. After the third or fourth episode, his wall starts to break down and we get some more genuine emotion from him, leading me to believe that the first few episodes were from the perspective of someone unfamiliar with how to relate to people. It did sort of throw me for awhile.

Luckily, even if Young’s early performances feel weird, the rest of the cast is excellent. Abigail Spencer’s Southern accent is trying a little too hard, but she’s really good in the role so I’ll let her slide. There’s even some genuine Christianity presented in a non-judgemental way.

Rectify’s first season was only six episodes, so it’s not like you’re devoting a large proportion of your time to it. I didn’t realize this until the sixth episode, but each episode is apparently one day and deals directly with Daniel’s first six days out of jail. I was beginning to think “Man, this guy is really messed up” but, knowing that it is legitimately his first week out of jail, I can forgive some of his odder behavior. The second season starts in June and will feature 10 episodes. It’s streaming on Netflix right now. Maybe check it out if you’re into character drama.

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