The Keys-set Bloodline drops on Netflix

Expect a series that captures Florida's sunny-dark duality.

click to enlarge Ben Mendelsohn and Kyle Chandler in Bloodline. - Netflix
Ben Mendelsohn and Kyle Chandler in Bloodline.

Netflix series are starting to come so fast and furious they’re hard to keep track of, but Fri., March 20, brings one of particular note to Floridians. Bloodlines is a dark family drama/thriller set in Keys, and centering on the Rayburn clan. The Rayburns seem set to embody a very Floridian duality — a surface appearance of beauty and peace, lying over a more deeply troubled core. The series’ marquee name is Kyle Chandler, better known as Coach Taylor of the much-beloved Friday Night Lights, who here plays John, the family’s upstanding and respected scion.

But for me, the attraction will be watching Ben Mendelsohn, the Australian actor whose mix of warmth, menace and need is impossible to turn away from. Mendelsohn was human, queasy, and desperate in 2012’s The Place Beyond the Pines, and even more desperate, sweaty, and broken in the same year’s Killing Them Softly.

But in each case what made the performances sing was the inescapable sense that Mendelsohn’s character knew there was something better within himself, showing in flashes of quick wit and easy smiles. That duality makes him a lock-tight fit for the role of Danny Rayburn, the black sheep who returns to disrupt the Rayburns’ island tranquility by dredging up a past they’d rather forget.

Last weekend’s New York Times profile of Mendelsohn focused more on his darkness, but the show looks to set that against his underlying warmth, playing up the struggles of a man, and a family, trying to do good when it’s not easy.

That means lots of slow-burning tension — but also, it seems, broken windows, broken dreams, and bodies in the water.