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Review | ‘The White Lotus’ returns with an absolutely fantastic season 2

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Spoiler-free review.

When the first season of the comedy-drama “The White Lotus” premiered on HBO Max in 2021, no one could have imagined the noise it would make. As well as high ratings, the production fell in love with critics and won numerous awards – the most decorated of the cast being the iconic Jennifer Coolidge for one of her career defining roles, socialite Tanya. Now, over a year later, we return for the second year of an anthology that has the potential to live long and takes us to a new heavenly destination: Sicily.

Here, the only ones returning to the main cast are Coolidge and Jon Gries; the rest is made up of new faces and immeasurable talent that leaves the new season on par with the original, giving way to more marital, social and work issues unfolding in a comedy of errors – and a more murder of ours. presented in the first chapter. Once again, Mike White is in charge of the direction and the screenplay and offers a solid narrative that explores both the most intrinsic faults of the human being and the sordid beauty of an idyllic landscape that hides more than he does not reveal. And I can assure you that the series will once again emerge as one of the best of the year, steeped in thought-provoking storylines, hateful and relatable characters, and visuals that resonate more with the grandeur of cinema than television.

Following in the footsteps of the previous iteration, the first episode begins, in fact, with the arrival of new guests at The White Lotus: Sicily, crossing the Mediterranean and docking at a luxurious pier that leads directly to the resort. This time, Tanya is accompanied by a young assistant, Portia (Haley Lu Richardson), to find her lover; newcomers include Harper (Aubrey Plaza) and Will (Ethan Spiller), a couple traveling with superfluous Cameron (Theo James) and Daphne (Meghann Fahy); the intergenerational trio formed by Bert (F. Murray Abraham), his son Dominic (Michael Imperioli) and his grandson Albie (Adam DiMarco); Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore), the ruthless hotel manager; and Mia (Beatrice Grannò) and Lucia (Simona Tabasco), two friends who try to infiltrate the station and win over the men in exchange for money.

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Sure, there are more characters that grab our attention, but it’s this core that steals the show with incredible performances and splendid chemistry – highlighting Plaza, Abraham and Imperioli in complex renditions that leave us enervated and can’t wait to find out what they do next. I must say, however, that none of the actors deliver an average performance; on the contrary, they act with an appreciable naturalness and recreate everyday scenes that border on the theatrical, because configured as almost impossible events, but which exist and shock us day after day.

There are a number of criticisms raised by White that are also embodied by each of the series’ gears. Socio-political alienation is one of the inflections that emerges at the heart involving Harper and Ethan versus Daphne and Cameron: as the latter present themselves as a perfect couple, free from problems for not caring about them and having an inexplicable approval to do what they want, the ones they struggle to hold on to until the end of the day, dealing with a sense of belonging and the shock of white privilege that manifests in different ways. And, while the unfolding plot enrages us, it’s impossible to take our eyes off the scenes that feature – perhaps because we’re seduced by the tragedy and shame of others.

Egolatria is the theme of the arc enveloping Bert, Albie and Dominic – each bounded in a different way. Bert, the patriarch, wants to show himself as an alpha male who always manages to charm young Sicilian girls, but does not realize that he perpetuates laughable stereotypes in every line; Dominic, a nymphomaniac who destroyed his marriage and alienated both his ex-wife and daughter, only cares about himself and how he presents himself to others; and Albie, getting involved with Portia, needs to dominate the situation and doesn’t realize how self-centered he is, posing as a “deconstructed” man to get her attention.

As already mentioned, Coolidge is reprising her role as Tanya and seems to be reaping the rewards of her irresponsibility last season. In the new episodes, she confines herself to Greg’s wishes until she realizes she doesn’t have much value to her lover other than fulfilling the conditions – even asking Portia to hide in her room and have a local Tarot reader help her find out what’s going on. wrong. And given that Coolidge is doing an admirable job that’s sure to earn her another Emmy nomination, it’s fun and enjoyable to watch her shenanigans in another Edenic place that she turns into a personal hell.

The 2nd season of ‘Le Lotus Blanc’ brings several tributes to the previous cycle, but without losing the freshness of a story much deeper than it seems. White manages to salvage ideas that parse human stupidity into an acidic foray that deserves recognition and is set to become one of the end-of-the-year sensations.

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