Alias Grace

It’s a mystery and that’s more up my street because it always boils down to two people battling for the win.

This drama is adapted from 1996 novel written by Margaret Atwood. The inspiration for the novel come true life case of Grace Marks, an Irish immigrant who with James McDermott; was convicted of the murder of their employer Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery. An account of this case was in Suzanna Moodie’s book Life in the Clearing versus the Bush, which is how Atwood found the story. From here Atwood take Grace’s story into a new arena and the premise now is that a charity want to Grace secure her freedom but they must first know whether she is guilty or not; unfortunately Grace is no memory of the events surrounding the murders. Hence a psychologist is enlisted to find these memories and get the truth.

To be honest, I haven’t read the book. So I just going review I was saw and judged like original non-adapted screenplay. It’s fair to say that many of the viewers wouldn’t have read the novel either.

I don’t know much about the founding of Canada but similar to America, a lot of European was making the crossing to find a better life. The piece doesn’t hide the racial, social class and gender tensions that Grace has to navigate. It’s very clear that European rich are in control of all the structures and she has no influence in how they work. It’s no wonder that this situation befalls her.

Genre blending is one of the best features of this piece. It starts off like a typical second wave pioneer story, and then becomes cerebral psychological crime thriller with flashes of gothic horror. The induction of the psychologist Dr Simon Jordan, into the mix allows the genre blending to occur. Through her reflections and his listen-n-waiting we enter the cat and mouse chase of a crime thriller; we see that Grace is very clever, witty and aware of her celebrity. She is no match for Dr. Jordan who finds himself attracted her as the sessions increase. Grace is unassuming and dignified and the audience just like Dr. Jordan; can’t quite believe she is capable of murder.

The sexual and physical abuses she suffers are given a horror film feel, the film angles they use make the feel like they were in room or actively involved in her abuse. These scenes are quick but very specific, which makes them very powerful.

Like the Handmaiden tale, there is a voiceover and we hear what she truly thinks. In this double dialogue is very unsettling. It makes Grace seem ambiguous because there is great difference between what thinks and what she choose tell the doctor in her flashbacks.

Alias Grace requires you watch and listen very carefully in particular to her account of friend Mary who she met at her first maid job. It’s really subtle writing but Mary is key. I love how this friendship has been driving the action so so subtly to that great exorcism via hypnosis scene in episode 6; finally we see that all isn’t what it seems. A new layer of understanding now needs to be accepted and for poor Dr. Jordan, it is too much take. Everyone and I mean everyone, has been for a ride despite the very soft clues Atwood provides.

This is filled with wonderful performances from all cast, it’s just a great Sunday night drama to watch. Alias Grace is currently available now on Netflix.

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