Bloodline Season 1 Review

We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing

Latest Netflix series Bloodline is a dark family drama, that while slow in pace, builds a steady and unnerving level of tension and features a stellar performance by Ben Mendelsohn.

Meet the Rayburns, a wealthy and respected family pioneering the tourist industry in a small coastal community. There is the stern patriarch Robert Rayburn and wife Sally who run a beachside hotel, and out of the Rayburn siblings there is John, a detective and local deputy, Meg, a lawyer and the only sister and Kevin, the hot-headed owner of a boat refurbishing business. Then there is Danny – the oldest sibling  and black sheep of the family. When Danny returns home dark family secrets begin to resurface, and Danny, whose motivations are unclear, sets the family on a course from which it may never recover.

The main narrative of Bloodline is bookmarked by two terrible events. One that occurred when the Rayburn siblings were children and was the initial cause of Danny’s alienation, and the other being Danny’s ultimate fate that the season is heading towards. Both these events constantly interject the main narrative in the form of flashbacks and glimpses into the future. This is an effective story-telling tool, as while the main narrative of Bloodline moves in a quite slow and deliberate pace,  the glimpses forward and back in time keep your attention fixed. We’re given an idea on where the story is heading, but we don’t yet know the how or why.

The writing is solid, with the exception of a couple of twists that were revealed too late in the piece, at which point the effect of their reveal was dampened. While there is nothing to really get the heart-racing until the final episode, the even build-up of tension throughout the series makes the wait for the hectic conclusion worthwhile.  The acting is generally excellent, particularly from Kyle Chandler as John Rayburn and Ben Mendelsohn as Danny.

Mendelsohn’s captivating performance as the sleazy, but often charming Danny Rayburn is Emmy deserving. While Mendelsohn is often cast as similar characters in a villain role, he brings layers of depth to Danny which constantly keep you unnerved and unsure of his real thoughts or intentions.

With a second season in the works, Bloodline is one of the better dramas to come out of Netflix’s original library.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Pick up the blu-ray here.

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