by Paul Sheehan, Gold Derby
“Mare of Easttown” smashed ratings records for the new streaming service HBO Max. Viewers spent seven weeks guessing the identity of the killer of a teen mother before detective Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) cracked the case in the thrilling finale. Every episode added more pieces to the puzzle. And film editor Amy Duddleston skillfully wove together these various storylines. Be warned: Spoilers ahead
In our recent interview, she readily admits to having a favorite among the seven installments: “I can go right to episode 3. It has all the elements – we call this is a family drama with a murder mystery and this episode was really fun. The ex husband becomes a suspect, the priest becomes a suspect and her personal life is happening.”
The script by Brad Ingelsby was packed full of suspense. Duddleston cops to not knowing whodunnit before reading the big reveal. Her goal was to give the audience that same experience. She welcomed the challenge of editing the shocking moments sprinkled throughout the show, especially the death of detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters) in episode 5. She catalogs the various elements at play — “she doesn’t have a gun, he does, and the girls are upstairs” — before explaining how to build the tension. “It’s knowing when to turn the screw and things get tighter.”
Duddleston credits “Mare of Easttown” director Craig Zobel with giving her so much to work with. Shooting was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic with about 80% of the show shot. “In those six months we were shut down, I went through the seven episodes and re-cut the entire show. We did a director’s cut and a producer’s cut and so we had a really good idea of where we were and what we need to shoot.” Duddleston was especially grateful for the contributions of Naomi Sunrise Filoramo, who came in to help with dailies.
Critics have praised the show for its blend of comedy and drama. For Duddleston, the interplay between Mare and her mother Helen (Jean Smart) offered some lightness in an often dark tale. “Those moments came out naturally. It was all about not being afraid to cut to them. When you are in serious drama, you need those moments.”
Duddleston vividly recalled her interest in the profession being piqued by two women: three-time Oscar winner Thelma Schoonmaker (“Raging Bull,” “The Aviator,” “The Departed”) and DeDe Allen (“Bonnie and Clyde,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” “Reds”) who pioneered the the audio shift, which overlaps sound from the beginning of the next shot into the end of the previous shot (or vice versa).