The Staircase is a new drama based on the real life death of Kathleen Peterson (Toni Collette – Pieces Of Her), who, in December 2001, was found at death’s door at the bottom of the titular wooden structure, but passed away before the paramedics arrived.
As such, she couldn’t communicate what happened, and from what we can see, husband Michael (Colin Firth) is absolutely fraught and not making a whole lot of sense to the emergency service workers.
But we first see him in 2017, getting ready to go out to an event he wishes he didn’t ever have to attend – a court case in which he has to prove his innocence. But did she fall? Was she pushed? Is Michael to blame? Well, that’s what we’ll learn in due course.
There’s flashback scenes, in which Kathleen’s seeing off one of her daughters to college, before we also see how the staircase, itself, has a sense of trepidation to it, and can be easily tripped upon, but then she also has injuries consistant with being attacked, and I won’t give much detail about what we learn from the start, other than one clue in that shortly before her death, she was in hospital after injuring herself in a swimming pool. But in any case, what does Michael know?
Along the way, a French outlet wants to interview Mike, while the kids are still trying to make sense of what’s happened. Plus, Michael has a hidden past – well, kept hidden from the kids, but he claims Kathleen knew about it. Did she? Maybe we’ll never know, or maybe that’ll come out in a future flashback scene.
The Staircase does keep jumping back and forth in time – often between scenes in 2001 and 2017 (present day, so to speak), sometimes mixing the two together – but at least it gives us the month and year where we’re up to, unlike The Serpent, whose time-jumping was ridiculous in its structure with “3 months earlier, then 5 months later, etc” so you had to write it down in order to figure it out.
But did he do it? Maybe we get the answer before too long, but only the first three episodes are available initially, with new ones added weekly…
That said, I’m wondering if in some of the flashbacks, it’s a mix of showing us events which actually happened, along with those which didn’t, but are just the characters trying to work out what happened?
So, maybe we haven’t got the answer in what’s been shown so far?
Either way, it’s a comfortable watch, but it’s very slow, and shouldn’t need 8 episodes to tell its story. That said, I wish all of it was available from day one so I could work through it, rather than waiting.
UPDATE Episodes 4 and 5:
UPDATE Episode 6: The following does not include spoilers, but as I’m posting prior to the episode airing, I’ll hide it anyway.
The Staircase is not available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but three episodes were released on Sky Atlantic on Thursday May 5th, and additional episodes are released weekly on a Thursday.
Running time: 65-70 minutes per episode (8 episodes)
Release date: May 5th 2022
Studio: Sky Atlantic
Series Directors: Antonio Campos, Leigh Janiak
Producers: Christina M Fitzgerald, Craig Shilowich
Creator: Antonio Campos
Writers: Craig Shilowich, Emily Kaczmarek, Maggie Cohn
Music: Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans
Michael Peterson: Colin Firth
Kathleen Peterson: Toni Collette
Freda Black: Parker Posey
Todd Peterson: Patrick Schwarzenegger
Clayton Peterson: Dane DeHaan
Bill Peterson: Tim Guinee
Patty Peterson: Trini Alvarado
Margaret Ratliff: Sophie Turner
David Rudolf: Michael Stuhlbarg
Martha Ratliff: Odessa Young
Candace Zamperini: Rosemarie DeWitt
Jean-Xavier: Vincent Vermignon
Caitlin: Olivia DeJonge
Becky: Hannah Pniewski
Mark Zamperini: Kevin Sizemore
Tom Maher: Justice Leak
Art Holland: Cory Scott Allen
Ron Guerette: Robert Crayton
Bruce Campbell: Ryan Lewis
Jim Hardin: Cullen Moss
Sophie Brunet: Juliette Binoche
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.