With every other visual media platform creating their own lineup of shows, it was only a matter of time until Facebook would get in on the action. Last year, the series “Sacred Lies” premiered on the streaming service Facebook Watch. Drifting between fairytale and murder mystery, the series gathered enough of a following to warrant a second season renewal. This time out, the show tells a different story with a new set of actors leading the charge.
“Sacred Lies: The Singing Bones” begins with two parallel storylines. In the first, a young woman named Elsie (newcomer Jordan Alexander) goes in search for answers about her parents after being abandoned at dinner by her father (True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten) years earlier. At the same time, Harper (Academy Award nominee Juliette Lewis), a down on her luck telemarketer turned makeshift detective, obsessively searches for the identity of two young murder victims.
At its core, the series is a dark tale of lost people trying to find their place in a troubled world. “The Singing Bones” claims to have taken its tale from real events and also from the Brothers Grimm. This mixture of sources makes for an interesting dichotomy. The audience may find themselves asking what is real and what is fantasy. But the starkness of the real life displayed casts a long shadow, and the show has a difficult time finding any light to guide the way.
Most every character has a horrible existence. Joy is an afterthought, and life is nothing but misery. The one area of brightness comes from flashbacks of the “Jane Doe” murder victims. But no matter how glowing the cinematography in these scenes or how blonde the women’s hair, their story is still rooted in a drug-induced haze. The two women float in such a fable realm, there is no grounding in realty. The two victims do not seem real enough to warrant our sympathies.
The series tries to find hope through the relationship that develops between Elsie and Harper. But even their connection feels underwhelming. Of the two female leads, 90’s “it girl” Lewis comes off better. Harper seems a part written specifically for her. Lewis has an interesting look and a unique demeanor. She has continually used those traits to her advantage in films like, “Cape Fear” (1991), “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” (1993) and “Natural Born Killers” (1994). In the “Singing Bones” series, Harper is quirky, a tad disheveled and emotionally cut off. Lewis masterfully uses her talents once again to add another troubled character to her repertoire.
Presently, female driven narratives are all the rage. But having women in the lead does not necessarily make the product good. Successful series always require strong writing and development. Audiences still want to experience awash of different emotions and characters to root for. When those fundamentals are missing and the story is relying on just how dark and mysterious it can be, all that remains is an exhausting slog. Making it very clear, that the ending doesn’t come any faster whether its a man or a woman in the lead.