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DVD Review: TREME – SEASON ONE

TREME: SEASON ONE

Reviewer Goncalo Sousa
Rated: 15
Release Date:Out now (UK & Ireland)
Director:  Eric OvermyerDavid Simon
CastWendell PierceKhandi AlexanderClarke PetersSteve ZahnDavid Morse
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Treme is the latest project by David Simon, creator of the now legendary HBO series The Wire. It takes its name from the New Orleans neighbourhood where the action of the series is set, and starts 3 months after the devastation of hurricane Katrina, which ripped through Louisiana in the summer of 2005. Treme follows the stories of a wide variety of New Orleans residents as they try to rebuild their lives, their homes and their communities.

In typical HBO style, and following up the narrative style of The Wire, this series builds up slowly. Starting out with parallel storylines following different New Orleanians, these at times intersect, and at times expand beyond the initial limits of the setting. The characters include Antoine (Wendell Pierce), a trombonist trying to make ends meet through his music, while juggling a complicated love life. He has fathered several children from different women, one of which is LaDonna (Kandi Alexander), a strong-willed bar owner, struggling to keep her business in New Orleans while her sons live with her current husband in nearby city Baton Rouge. LaDonna is searching for her brother, who was in prison at the time Katrina hit, and went missing when there was a breakout. She is helped by Toni (Melissa Leo), a civil rights lawyer who uses her knowledge and influence to help the many people failed by the system in the aftermath of the hurricane, referred to by the New Orleanians simply as ‘the storm’. Toni’s husband Creighton (John Goodman) is a university professor and writer, whose intense love for New Orleans leads him to feel the destruction of the city in a powerful and destructive way. There is also Davis (Steve Zahn), a local radio DJ with a passion for New Orleans’ cultural and musical heritage. Davis has an on-and-off relationship with Janette (Kim Dickens), who is working hard to keep her restaurant business afloat after the storm causes catastrophic damage to her business. One of the most intriguing characters however, is Albert (Clarke Peters), a Mardi Gras Indian chief who, against the wishes of his daughter and son, insists on returning to the ravaged part of the city where he lived, and rebuild his life and his community.

These varied characters, from different ethnic, religious, cultural and social backgrounds, lend the series its colour, their storylines developing slowly and steadily, and building up an emotional investment from the audience which makes the season’s climactic events incredibly powerful. With a pitch-perfect script and flawless performances, along with a fantastic soundtrack representing the musical variety of New Orleans, Treme faithfully and respectfully honours a community which has endured one of the great American catastrophes of the 21st century.

The DVD edition for the first season of Treme features cast and crew commentary tracks, as well as featurettes exploring the making of the TV series, the real Treme neighbourhood in New Orleans, and the musical elements of the show.

MOVIE RATING: 4/5

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