The Staircase (Ep 1-3) Review: Toni Collette-Colin Firth Starrer Gives New Dimensions to the Michael Peterson Trial

HBO Max’s latest true crime series The Staircase has released its first three episodes and, the show is towards a messy yet massive start. The crime drama miniseries is created by The Devil All The Time’s Antonio Campos and, is based on the 2004 true-crime docuseries of the same name created by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade. The runtime of the first three episodes are over an hour.

The cast features Colin Firth as Michael Peterson, Toni Collette as Kathleen Peterson, Michael Stuhlbarg as David Rudolf, Dane DeHaan as Clayton Peterson, Olivia DeJonge as Caitlin Atwater, Patrick Schwarzenegger as Todd Peterson, Sophie Turner as Margaret Ratliff, Odessa Young as Martha Ratliff, Rosemarie DeWitt as Candace Hunt Zamperini, Tim Guinee as Bill Peterson, Parker Posey as Freda Black, Juliette Binoche as Sophie Brunet and, Vincent Vermignon as Jean-Xavier. The story recounts the infamous trial of novelist Michael Peterson.

– HBO Max’s The Staircase Review (Ep 1-3) Does Not Contain Spoilers –

The Staircase (Ep 1-3): Another Retelling But, Is It Worth It?

Every streaming platform’s favourite genre this year seems to be either dark true crime dramas or sensational biographical retellings and, we cannot say that we aren’t all in for it. Hulu, particularly, has taken a lead this season giving us series such as The Dropout, WeCrashed, The Girl from Plainville and, most recently, Under the Banner of Heaven. HBO Max seems to have taken a hint and dropped the true-crime miniseries that recounts one of America’s most infamous and ambiguous trials- The State Vs Michael Peterson.

This is a story that has been retold so many times that it almost feels like a revision, so starting off with The Staircase seemed like a poor choice But, once you finish all three episodes, you understand how Antonio Campos has elevated the style of true-crime storytelling through this series by mixing in the aspects of family drama with the crime at hand.

The Staircase starts following the methodical way a true-crime series is told. Michael Peterson gives a frantic call to 911 about his wife, Katheleen Peterson falling down the stairs, bleeding but also, breathing. A few moments later there is another follow-up call by Peterson stating his wife is no longer breathing and, asking the paramedics to reach the scene immediately. We hold witness to the dead and blood-drenched body to Katheleen Peterson, who is declared dead, sending Michael in a crying fit.

Also Read: Under the Banner of Heaven Episode 3 Review: Andrew Garfield’s Faith is Challenged as More Suspects Surface

However, what initially looked like suicide does not feel that way to the officers present and, soon enough the place is declared a crime scene. Thus, starts the journey of Michael Peterson and, his defence to prove himself innocent of murdering his wife. As the episode progresses, we get to meet not only Kathleen in flashbacks but, also their children- Clayton, Caitlin, Todd, Margaret and Martha, in the present timeline as well as the past. Katheleen’s extended family which includes her sisters, Candance and Lori are also introduced and, we get to understand the family dynamics which builds the foundation of everyone’s perspective on the case.

By episodes two and three, we are not only in full trial mode but, also see the involvement of documentarian Jean-Xavier de Lestrade on whose docuseries the show is actually based. Aspects of Michael Peterson’s bisexuality and, Kathleen Peterson’s mixing of wine and pills also come into play to determine where the case is heading.

HBO Max’s The Staircase stands out in its storytelling. It is, of course, telling us what we already know about a case that made international headlines but, it is telling the same story from the point of view of every character. Unlike, all the other pieces of cinema based on this case, this series takes it up a notch by involving the children, their feelings, Katheleen’s sisters and, even Michael’s lawyer rather than just focusing on the court and, the progress of a trial.

Also Read: Blood Sisters Reactions: Twitter Is in Love With Netflix’s Latest Nollywood Drama

The episodes don’t hold back on rendering us naked with thoughts, almost painting a picture where no one is innocent or guilty, which is what makes it too thrilling to watch. When you are following the story from Michael’s viewpoint, you are convinced of his innocence but, the moment the camera turns to Katheleen’s sisters or the DA, the evidence is hard enough to make us change our perspective. And, then again there is the misleading blood splatter team. This is a trial which to date remains controversial and, even after 2 decades, we are left asking the same question- Did he do it? Well, HBO Max’s latest release might just hold some answers we have been looking for.

The Staircase (Ep 1-3): Final Thoughts

If you are wondering if it is worth investing in a story you already know with this series, then the answer is yes! The performances by the actors hold you- Toni Collette’s Katheleen is conflicted with happiness, Colin Firth’s Micheal is confusing with his innocence or guilty demeanour, Olivia DeJonge’s Caitlin is mistrusting and zoned out from the very start, all making up for perfect character sketches of people we have only read about in news. The entire cast has a charisma of its own which makes you want to know their story.

Apart from that, the first three episodes of The Staircase lays out the perfect groundwork for the series to blossom. If it will be as good as its start is for us to find out with every episode releasing on a weekly basis.

You can watch the first three episodes of The Staircase now streaming only on HBO Max.

Also Read: Thar Review: Anil Kapoor and Harshvardhan Kapoor Starrer is Bone-Chilling But, is it Enough?

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

SUMMARY

The Staircase gives a promising and interesting start to the story of a long trial.

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The Staircase gives a promising and interesting start to the story of a long trial.The Staircase (Ep 1-3) Review: Toni Collette-Colin Firth Starrer Gives New Dimensions to the Michael Peterson Trial