Netflix is on a rampage to destroy big production houses and channels with its astonishing line of web series one after the other, Alias Grace being one of the recent additions. Margaret Atwood’s extraordinary masterpiece of the same name has now earned screen space in the form of a six-episode mini-series, earning viewership and raving reviews and how! Mary Harron and Sarah Polley’s adaptation of the book is rich with emotional complexities of psychology in its most intense form.
The plot revolves around a real-life Canadian murder mystery that takes place in the year 1843. The suspense and surprises compel the audience to go on a quest of their own, trying the crack the obscure truth. There is not much factual delivery in the storyline. The deconstruction of the characters and possibilities is beautifully woven into a mystic storytelling. Irish immigrant Grace Marks along with her fellow servant are convicted of murdering their employer and his lover in Upper Canada.
The disagreements, shaky immigrant sentiments, class distinction and media cover-up, all culminate in the yin-yang of truth and lies. It is a work of art so to speak and the series has done remarkable justice to the brilliance of the book. The unearthing of the truth through a series of misinterpreted experiences hidden behind different meanings, hold the plot together in solid execution.
The cast delivers some of the best performances in the subtle tensions of silences. Even when there is no dialogue, the scenes are carried out with the finesse of expressions and bodily gestures. Sarah Gaddon as Grace Marks with her secret-layered confessions, cold eyes carrying a baggage of her past is achingly powerful.
The grief of Grace’s character and her trick confessions is amazingly written into the script. Anna Paquin’s Nancy Montgomery delivers the perfect blend of innocence and savageness. Edward Holcroft as Doctor Simon Jorden sets a benchmark for the most understanding onscreen therapist. Other supporting roles include Rebecca Liddiard, Paul Gross, and Zachery Levi among many others, who outdid the brilliance of the script within the scope of each character. It will take forever to sing the praise of how good and how perfect the cast is. Grace’s silent smiles, unperturbed calmness, perspectives and evaluation of her life, every emotion was filled with the right amount of intensity or dullness, as and when needed.
A woman’s innate nature of weaving a mystery and giving out hints is beautifully portrayed in the series. We find ourselves wrapped around the everyday disguised misogyny of a person in an asylum. Nothing seemed staged; it is as if we are watching real people on screen. The evolution of the characters with time and experience and the evident change in personality is beautifully written into the script. Alias Grace makes for one of the best series of the year where the audience with ache with the murderers. Gripping and overtly honest, Alias Grace is undoubtedly a feather in the cap of the creator.