Z the Beginning of Everything Review - Ricci Was Great, Hoflin Wasn't, Together They Had No Chemistry.
If you don't know the basic history of F Scott and his wife Zelda then there will be spoilers below.
It turns out Fitzgerald is hot in the streets right now. We've got this series, with Christina Ricci playing Zelda, another Amazon original adapting F Scotts unfinished novel, The Last Tycoon, and two movies about Zelda being made. One with Jennifer Lawrence playing Z and the other with Scarlett Johansson.* That's a lot of Fitzgerald stuff!
This show opens with Zelda narrating over a shot of her dead body in the burnt hospital room in which she died. It's a great opening. It lets the audience know that this tale will have a dark ending. But then the season didn't even scrape the surface of that darkness. Instead we watched a husband and wife quarrel over too much drinking, boredom and writers block. I'm certain all that existed in the real lives of Scott and Zelda but surely there was MUCH more to their relationship.
They are a famous love story. The muse of several books, hundreds of news clippings, and a million rumors. The biggest disappointment was the lack of chemistry between the two leads. I never got the feeling that they did truly need each other, that they would not be able to live without the other. There were a couple moments when they got along but they were fleeting and usually at the expense of a third party.
I thought Ricci did a great job. She played the "I'm smarter than people think I am" character very well. I thought it took too long for her crazy side to surface. I think it was the seventh episode when she wouldn't stop running through the revolving door. Eventually they are going to have to tackle her schizophrenia and it probably would have pulled audiences in more if they did so, even a little bit, in the first season.
They made F Scott Fitzgerald look like a real asshole. Insecure, childish and rude the whole way through. His only redeeming quality was that he wrote a good book and he was persistent in courting Zelda.** I'm not sure how historically accurate that is. I have read that he wasn't the most likable guy but never had him figured that bad in my head. It didn't help that David Hoflins portraying was stiff and one note. But she did love him. After ten episodes I still can't see what Zelda saw in him besides escaping the south and being rich. They needed to show us more of his loving side.
I think it's worth the watch. The episodes are short and fast paced. They left a lot of stuff to work with on season two and I have a feeling it will be a big step up from season one. Paris, Hemingway, Great Gatsby, schizophrenia and more drinking!
*I can see Lawrence crushing this role. (I can see her crushing any role) She showed in Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle that she can delve into the crazy characters very well. She also plays the "life of the party" role on every talk show appearance she has so that won't be a problem either. I can't see Scarlett Johansson playing Zelda well at all though. I love ScarJo but has she every played an upbeat vibrant personality? I feel like her characters are always more chill and somber.
**This Side of Paradise is one of the few books I have quit on.
P.S. Seeing Christina Ricci naked was a nice surprise. I've only had a crush on her since 1995.
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