Quick Reviews: ‘Anna’ / ‘Unorthodox (miniseries)’ / ‘Mrs. America (miniseries)
Very much a disappointment that is playing one monotonous note all the way through because it’s as predictable as you can imagine an action thriller to be. It’s mostly stereotypes walking around and meeting in different rooms, to the point that you have no one to care about in a story that you don’t care about either. The expected double and triple crossing shakes up the structure pretty nicely, giving the second half much needed fresh air to breathe. Actors do their best with limited arcs they’re given including the leading woman Sasha Luss (Anna) who’s mostly known for modelling. Helen Mirren as her boss Olga steals the scenes she’s in, asserting power and fierceness for every word spoken. Use of languages and the final ”escape” sequence didn’t feel thought through at all, closing the looping circle of we-have-seen-this-all-before.
Smileys: Structure, Helen Mirren
Frowneys: Characterisation, story, originality
A star making role for Shira Haas who plays Esther, a young woman who decides to leave her strictly Orthodox community to find her own path in life. Tightly packaged into four episodes that absolutely fly by in the best way possible, it features incredible acting from scene to scene. Haas’ eyes alone speak louder than thunder and it all pays off in the biggest way in the final episode which features a tender musical moment. Supporting cast (including Amit Rahav as Esther’s husband) is solid as well. Captivating stories are treated like rare diamonds and Unorthodox certainly has one but it’s also supported by smart writing which isn’t afraid to test the actors. Scripts don’t have an edge when it comes to the chasing and hunting down parts of it but the show doesn’t really need that since it already hits the dramatic moments perfectly.
Smileys: Shira Haas, story, screenplay, pacing, Amit Rahav
Frowneys: Doesn’t utilise the thriller moments at all really.
MRS. AMERICA (miniseries)
Undoubtedly a technical marvel which is an obvious vehicle for award season. Each episode’s focus is on different person and while it creates some imbalance, it’s never because of the acting behind that person. Cast led by Cate Blanchett (Phyllis Schlafly), Rose Byrne (Gloria Steinem), Uzo Aduba (Shirley Chisholm) and Margo Martindale (Bella Apzug) is top to bottom extraordinary. Acting alone stands up for itself but it doesn’t hurt when there’s beautiful work done by makeup, hair and costume departments which builds the characters into even bigger forces. All five credited directors also deserve some praise as every movement, line and word’s inflection seem purposeful. As said, Mrs. America is technically high volume content from front to back but it did leave me emotionally distant. We don’t get quite enough time with the characters considering there are several years passing by from episode one to nine, on top of that the music (score+soundtrack) felt equally empty and it kept going in and out very awkwardly.
Smileys: Whole cast’s performances, hairstyling, costume design
Frowneys: Score, soundtrack