"Lessons in Chemistry" Review: Brie Larson Sparkles in a Heartfelt and Soulful Performancebrielarson,lessonsinchemistry,review,chemistry,heartfeltperformance,soulfulperformance
"Lessons in Chemistry" Review: Brie Larson Sparkles in a Heartfelt and Soulful Performance

“Lessons in Chemistry” Review: Brie Larson Sparkles in a Heartfelt and Soulful Performance

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Lessons in Chemistry: A Heartfelt and Soulful Performance by Brie Larson

An Introduction to the Series

The Apple TV+ series “Lessons in Chemistry” may bear an instructional title, but don’t let that deter you from giving it a watch. This eight-part series takes on the subject of the 1960s battle for women’s rights with a blend of comedy, calamity, and an infectious buoyancy that makes it both funny and touching.

At the heart of the show is Brie Larson, an Oscar winner for her unforgettable role in “Room” and a household name as Captain Marvel. In “Lessons in Chemistry,” Larson brings her heart, soul, and fierce determination to the character of Elizabeth Zott. Elizabeth is a woman who is far ahead of her time, fighting her way out of the restrictions of a so-called “man’s world.”

A Glimpse into the Plot

The series begins by introducing Elizabeth as a struggling lab tech in 1950s Los Angeles. She works under the reign of entrenched male figures who keep her in subservience. Elizabeth’s desire for equal opportunities stems from a past assault at work, where her complaints of abuse by a male colleague went unheard.

However, the exception to this male-dominated environment is Calvin Evans, played by Lewis Pullman. Calvin is a Nobel-winning head chemist, whose intelligence and charming awkwardness match Elizabeth’s wit. The two become a formidable pair, navigating their personal and professional lives together.

They even adopt a dog named Six Thirty and decide to forgo having children, instead dedicating themselves to chemistry research and rowing exercises. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes, leaving Elizabeth alone and pregnant. She finds herself cut off from the chemical breakthrough they developed together, thanks to the chauvinistic attitudes at the Hastings Research Company.

In a bid to support herself and her unplanned daughter Madeline, played by Alice Halsey, Elizabeth stumbles upon a surprising opportunity. She becomes the host of a local TV cooking show called “Supper at Six,” where she incorporates her knowledge of chemistry and promotes female empowerment as her secret sauce.

The Story Behind the Series

It’s important to note that “Lessons in Chemistry” is not a true story. The series is based on a fiction book by Bonnie Garmus, a seasoned ad agency copywriter with a self-taught interest in chemistry and rowing. Garmus, who experienced sexism firsthand, injects her empathy into both the book and the TV adaptation.

The series was developed by Lee Eisenberg, best known for his work on “The Office,” in collaboration with co-writers Elissa Karasik and Emily Fox. While the series stays true to the spirit of Garmus’ book, it introduces several additions not present in the original text.

Exploring Additional Plotlines

One such addition is a subplot involving Elizabeth and her Black neighbor, Harriet, portrayed by Aja Naomi King. Harriet involves Elizabeth in the civil rights movement, expanding the series’ social activism beyond white-centric matters. However, this subplot feels underdeveloped and often serves as a distracting element.

Another notable addition is an entire episode narrated by Elizabeth’s dog, Six-Thirty, voiced by B.J. Novak. While whimsical, this narrative choice may not resonate with all viewers, and some may find it unnecessary.

The series also dedicates significant time to exploring Madeline’s journey of investigating the unknown father and the family that raised him. Although these plotlines add depth to the characters, their execution veers towards sentimentality, which contrasts with Larson’s nuanced performance as Elizabeth.

The Strength of Larson’s Performance

Throughout “Lessons in Chemistry,” Brie Larson consistently delivers a powerful performance, challenging the sentimentality ingrained in the script. She portrays Elizabeth as a woman who smiles at her own will, refuses to appease fools, and relentlessly pursues her goals.

Elizabeth’s refusal to conform to societal expectations and her determination to challenge the prevailing notion that a woman’s place is solely in the home make her character timely and timeless. In a truly exhilarating fashion, she transforms her kitchen into a laboratory, defying the demands of her obnoxious station manager, who is hilariously played by Rainn Wilson as a sexist personification.

A Lesson in Chemistry and Feminism

“Lessons in Chemistry” serves as a reminder of no-nonsense feminism and the importance of choosing one’s path in the face of adversity. Larson’s connection to her role is palpable, as she immerses herself in every aspect of Elizabeth’s character.

While the series may have its tonal shifts and a few distracting plotlines, its overall message and Larson’s heartfelt performance make it a compelling watch. “Lessons in Chemistry” offers a unique blend of comedy, social commentary, and unwavering determination, creating a delightful chemistry that leaves a lasting impact on its audience.

So, if you’re in the mood for a series that combines wit, heart, and the fight for women’s rights, look no further than “Lessons in Chemistry.”


"Lessons in Chemistry" Review: Brie Larson Sparkles in a Heartfelt and Soulful Performance
<< photo by Polina Tankilevitch >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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Edwards Jake

G'day, I'm Jake Edwards, the man on the street. I've been crisscrossing this great country, bringing you the human stories that make Australia what it is. From interviews with local legends to the everyday Aussie battlers, I'm here to tell your stories. So let's yarn, Australia

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