THE PERFORMER | Elizabeth Olsen
THE SHOW | Sorry for Your Loss
THE EPISODE | “One Fun Thing” (Sep. 18, 2018)
THE PERFORMANCE | Playing a grieving widow almost seems like an acting cliché at this point, with the requisite tears and inspirational quotes. But Olsen smashed our expectations in the series premiere of Facebook Watch’s new drama, painting an exquisite portrait of a woman who’s still mourning the loss of her husband after the rest of the world has moved on. It’s a stunning performance that gets under your skin and stays there.
As Olsen’s character Leigh delivered a riveting opening monologue to her grief group, her face was an emotionally numb blank slate, masking her anger and sadness beneath a tough outer shell of sarcastic humor. (Olsen conveys so much with her eyes in this role: still bright, but muted, as if they’re all cried out.) We also saw that Leigh wasn’t always miserable, in flashbacks to happier times with her late husband Matt, as Olsen displayed the ample warmth and affection that’s since been sapped out of Leigh. She finally broke down, her voice trembling, when the one indulgence she still had — the free donuts at her grief group — was taken away from her. (“Nothing makes me feel better enough!”) Later, Leigh frantically searched for a missing Matt in flashback, and her chin quivered with gratitude as her sister offered to help her clean out her old house… it was like a decathlon of acting challenges, and Olsen sailed through them all with ease.
It’s a heartbreaking series to watch, to be sure, but Olsen’s strength and honesty helps keep it from feeling like a drag. Leigh isn’t exactly a cuddly character, and her journey is a messy one, with plenty of false starts and setbacks. The sheer power of Olsen’s performance, though, makes us want to keep following along with her every step of the way.