I Know This Much Is True aired in May 2020 on Sky Atlantic. Directed by Derek Cianfrance and based on the 1998 novel of the same name by Wally Lamb, the miniseries follows middle-aged Dominick Birdsey (Mark Ruffalo) who recounts his troubled relationship with his paranoid schizophrenic twin brother, Thomas, and his efforts to get him released from an asylum.
A truthful and raw drama with powerful performances, I Know This Much Is True is a hard-hitting story that excels in quality, but tells a grim story that has no lighter moments to give you chance to breathe.
I was intrigued by this series as it’s directed by Derek Cianfrance and I love his films. Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines, and The Light Between Oceans are all some of my favourites. They all have their darker moments, too, and Cianfrance certainly knows how to get the most of the talented actors he gets involved in his work, but I really felt the misery of I Know This Much Is True.
It’s so relentlessly downbeat that I couldn’t find any joy in watching it. There are some emotional moments and the quality is exceptional, but it’s just so dark that it made me feel more uncomfortable than compelled. I think I would have loved this if it were a film, but being spread out into a series that equates to over six hours long, it was just a bit too much.
From reading up about the adaptation, the book is obviously a lot darker than this TV series is, but I think when stories are this grim, it’s much easier to invest in them when reading. Viewing the story on-screen, however, it was difficult to become emotionally attached to the story when it’s not one that you can easily look forward to catching up with. Cianfrance’s storytelling is always impressive, but I just couldn’t appreciate it this time around.
I was also intrigued because of Mark Ruffalo‘s lead. We may be used to seeing him play The Hulk nowadays, but it’s these grittier roles that I have always loved him more for. He gives an absolutely phenomenal performance in this, and Philip Ettinger is brilliant as a younger version of him, too. The performances are definitely what kept me coming back for more.