A Union Worth Assessing

A Union Worth Assessing

Review: State of the Union

Starring Rosamund Pike and Chris O’Dowd

Nick Hornby has made an interesting career out of writing snappy dialogue and exploring what makes human relationships tick. Perhaps the most famous example is his novel High Fidelity, which was successfully made into a film starring John Cusack.

With his newest television effort, State of the Union, Hornby once again manages to probe the nature of relationships, while offering up plenty of ridiculousness on the side.

Every episode takes place in a pub across the road from the office where Louise (Rosamund Pike) and Tom (Chris O’Dowd) meet before their marriage counselling sessions. On the precipice of divorce and looking to make a last-ditch effort to save their marriage, the couple reluctantly meet and discuss where things went wrong. Over the course of the season, we learn about infidelity, the underlying reasons for the relationship breakdown, and where the couple’s hopes lie.

For a show that features little more than two people talking in the same room, State of the Union never becomes dull or repetitive. Louise and Tom plum the depths of human existence, discussing what might have happened had they not met, if their marriage can be saved, when boredom entered the equation, and what the purpose of it all might be. Their arguments are never difficult to watch or malicious and there is plenty of wordplay and levity.

Both Pike and O’Dowd manage to deliver on the material. Pike holds her own paired with comedic actor O’Dowd, who in turn manages to succeed with more serious moments.

With its single setting, emphasis on wordplay, and exploration of the human existence, State of the Union reminded Insights of the likes of Waiting for Godot, albeit without the same sense of existential pointlessness.

Much like It’s Bruno, this is a series that can be easily binge watched in just under two hours. Its short ten minute episodes manage to fit plenty of story advancement. Watching the entire thing proves to be rewarding.

State of the Union is streaming free now on ABC iView.

Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor

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