• Post category:Television
  • Post last modified:June 12, 2022

The Staircase



Colin Firth and Toni Collette. Photo: HBO Max

A limited series that examines the criminal case of Michael Peterson, a North Carolina writer who in 2003 was found guilty of murdering his wife Kathleen, only to be released 14 years later after new facts about tainted evidence in the original trial emerged. The case received a lot of attention when a French docuseries called The Staircase premiered in 2004. The making of it is also a subject of creator Antonio Campos’s series. Denounced as fiction by many of those who are portrayed in the series, it is nonetheless an engrossing portrait of a family in turmoil, presenting harrowing ways of how Kathleen might have died. Excellent cast. 

2022-U.S. 496 min. Color. Created by Antonio Campos. Theme: Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans. Cast: Colin Firth (Michael Peterson), Toni Collette (Kathleen Peterson), Michael Stuhlbarg (David Rudolf), Dane DeHaan, Olivia DeJonge, Patrick Schwarzenegger… Juliette Binoche, Sophie Turner, Parker Posey. 

Trivia: Originally shown in eight episodes. Co-executive produced by Harrison Ford (who was initially also cast in the lead) and Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, the writer-director of the docuseries.

Last word: “[Documentary filmmakers] are trying to give something that’s as close to the truth that they feel, whatever the truth is that they’re trying to tell. But you have different opinions. I watched the documentary in 2008, and I was struck by the idea that there was a French film crew that was in Durham, North Carolina in this house. I got excited by that as a device in a story, because I knew that the two filmmakers had two very different opinions about what happened. I knew that would offer a dialogue, a Greek chorus in this story that could capture the dialogue that was happening by the audience’s conversation that was happening. So, from the beginning I knew that dynamic was going to be a big part of the story.” (Campos, Slashfilm)

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