It’s difficult to determine if True Detective will resonate with a modern television watching audience. I’m as guilty as anyone of multitasking while TV watching, with either my laptop fired up or my cell phone in my hand, but True Detective asks for more of our attention-and rewards us for it.
The two leads, Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, both benefit from a string of great performances in the past couple years, Harrelson with Seven Psychopaths and this year’s Out of the Furnace and McConaughey with Mud, Dallas Buyer’s Club and even a scene stealing cameo in Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street. Both men are equally terrific in True Detective and whether we’re watching the 2012 interview of Harrelson’s Martin Hart and McConaughey’s Rust Cohle, or the flashbacks-and really the body of the story-in 1995, there is a subtlety and nuance to both men’s performances.
The focus thus far has been on the investigation of the ritual murder of a prostitute and the two detective’s personal lives; Cohle’s life having already reached self destruction and Hart’s headed in the same direction. The series strength rests in making the audience wait for its answers and the vivid way in which it paints the Louisiana backdrop with director Cary Fukunaga’s southern noir visuals and frequent Coen brothers collaborator T-Bone Burnett’s haunting sparse score. Highly recommended.