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Home > Love and Death (2023): A Review

Love and Death (2023): A Review

Love and Death

This HBO Mini-Series Tells the Devastating Story of Candy Montgomery

HBO has outdone itself with its latest miniseries, Love and Death. Elizabeth Olson gives a standout performance as a Texas churchgoer in 1980s America. The small-town setting, along with the gripping true crime elements, make for a well-done take on this true story.

The Hazardous Nature that Leads to True Crime

Candy Montgomery (Elizabeth Olsen) is a typical American housewife living in middle America. She is devoted to her church, her children, and her husband. But despite this, Candy decides to start an affair with fellow churchgoer Allan Gore (Jesse Plemons). 

Both agree they don’t want either of their partners getting hurt and want no strings attached regarding their affair. But soon enough, their dissolution crumbles. Candy’s husband, Pat Montgomery (Patrick Fugit), and Allan’s wife, Betty Gore (Lily Rabe), find out about the pair and their less-than-holy actions. This forces Candy and Alan to make decisions they never thought possible.

Elizabeth Olsen’s Standout Performance

Elizabeth Olsen gave one of the best performances of her career in Love and Death. Olsen brought Candy Montgomery to life and captured Montgomery’s imperfections. Candy is more than a cookie-cutter, dutiful housewife; she is someone who also wants excitement and fulfillment in her life.

Unfortunately, she chooses to find fulfillment in an affair with Gore, which sends shockwaves through their community. However, Olsen can make audiences feel a wide array of emotions throughout the series. She shows the complexities of why Montgomery entered the affair, to begin with, and why she was forced to do the unthinkable. 

The supporting cast also did an excellent job of portraying the small-town southerners who found out about the affair between Candy and Allan. Lily Rabe, who plays Betty Gore, also gave an excellent performance as Allan Gore’s loyal and anxiety-ridden wife. Once Betty is made aware of the affair, her world crumbles not only because of Allan’s cheating but the fact he cheated with her best friend. In an instant, Betty lost her support system.

Cheating is something that, unfortunately, has become more of a common occurrence. It is great to see a project that doesn’t have one-dimensional characters or a one-dimensional view of cheating. It’s never as simple as just leaving once cheating occurs. This is especially true when there are children involved. 

Love and Death

There’s also the element of both couples being regular church attendants and divorce being frowned upon and less common during this time. The series shows all of these elements throughout the various episodes as it builds to its conclusion. Even with the project showcasing traditional gender roles and how supposedly happy both couples are, it’s always great to see realistic depictions of marriages and the imperfect nature of both the husband and wife. Another factor that makes this miniseries so enticing is the small-town dynamic and gossip surrounding the affair. This, along with the killing of Betty Gore, makes Love and Death one of the most bingeable shows of the year. 

A Simple Setting 

The setting for this miniseries, although simple, makes a large impact. The small-town setting appeals to a variety of viewers instead of a story being set in New York or Los Angeles, like so many other stories. As an audience member, it’s refreshing to see a story that’s not based in a major American city. 

HBO’s latest miniseries, although violent at times, encapsulates the severity of Candy murdering Beth and the question as to whether this was in self-defense or out of jealousy and spite. The trial’s prosecution and defense sides were well articulated in the series. The series did a great job of showing both arguments regarding the trial. Audience members will surely feel empathy towards both women, given the complexity of their situation. 

It’s also refreshing to see a project that doesn’t demonize just the man or the women but instead both parties. Both Montgomery and Gore are at fault regarding the affair. They both are cheating on their significant others and causing fractures in their families and community. Eventually, Gore, along with Montgomery, realize the consequences of their actions and are forced to come face to face with the problems they created. This dynamic and the small-town setting make for a story that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

Final Rating 

The series captures all of the elements of a true crime show with the suspense of a blockbuster thriller. The trial portion of the series has a great deal of suspense that will keep fans guessing until its conclusion. HBO was able to bring to life a true story that had long been forgotten. Between its phenomenal casting, small-town setting, and gruesome brutality, Love and Death has all the components of an unimaginable story.

Stream Love and Death now on HBO Max!

Love and Death

Love and Death (2023) Official Warner Bros. Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Freelance Writer