BY // GRAHAM STEINBERG
I Know This Much is True is a hauntingly beautiful story about unwitting brotherhood beyond all measure and the moral decay of American society as a result of the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Derek Cianfrance continues to prove his capability to bring the most heart-wrenching stories to life and Jody Lee Lipes (the cinematographer who lept onto the scene with Manchester by the Sea) gives an intimate eye to compliment his direction with tight, in-your-face shots. But the real knockout is obviously Mark Ruffalo who plays the contrasting personalities of the Birdsey brothers better than the two sides of the Hulk. It’s hard to even realize they are one person and the chemistry he builds inside himself makes for a spectacular performance.
Filmgoers are often critical of Cianfrance (as indicated by the mixed reception for his 2012 film The Place Beyond the Pines, a film I consider to be one of the finest experiments with linear narrative) for making films that contain too much dread without redemption. And while I’ll admit having trouble with getting through Blue Valentine, the drama in his films never feels as though it exists purely for the shock. The darkness he formulates is because it is a dark story. It is always truthful and always earned. In addition, his miniseries continues to showcase his ability to deconstruct narrative conventions and rebuild them for the purpose of telling a complete story.
I look forward to seeing how I Know This Much is True continues in the coming weeks.