Wednesday, November 29, 2017

TV Show Review: Alias Grace

A murder mystery and historical drama from the great author Margaret Atwood makes for a great Netflix limited series. The show begins with Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon) already locked up for a murder, though the circumstances of that crime are not yet revealed. Psychologist Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft) interviews Grace to figure out if she is guilty or if her story is true. In flashbacks, Grace is kicked out of her father's home. She searches for work and finds a job as a maid working for Mrs. Parkinson (Martha Burns). She forms a relationship with another maid Mary Whitney (Rebecca Liddlard) but Mary comes down with an illness which turns out to be a pregnancy as she was flirting with George Parkinson (Will Bowes). Forced to keep it a secret, she gets the dangerous operation of an abortion but does not survive the bleeding.

Grace believes she hears the voice of Mary and fears she didn't open a window fast enough to let her soul. Distressed, Grace faints but she wakes up under the impression that she is Mary and Grace is missing. Dr. Jordan is skeptical of Grace's claim but continues to listen to her as he daydreams about a romantic relationship with her. Grace meets Jeremiah Pontelli (Zachary Levi), a traveling salesman who finds Grace attractive. Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin) recruits Grace to work as a maid at the home of Thomas Kinnear (Paul Gross). Strange rumors surround Kinnear and Nancy, though a maid herself, has a more personal relationship with her employer. 

Grace settles in as she finds some things appealing about her life but she also feels stuck in this position as a maid and desires more from her life. She continues to relate her past to Dr. Jordan who seeks to solve the case but also find a cure for what ails Grace. Not all is peaceful at the Kinnear residence as the rumors continue to swirl and a helper James McDermott (Kerr Logan) is unhappy with his payment. Dr. Jordan continues to pull out the story from Grace Marks as she relates the events leading up to the murders but when she gets to the actual events, she starts to have gaps in her memory and claims that she does not remember what happened around that time.

Jeremiah shows up at the prison as he has studied hypnotist. In the past, Jeremiah came to the Kinnear house and tried to convince Grace to run away with him but she refuses when he says he won't marry her. Nancy grows worried that Grace is replacing her as Kinnear is nice to Grace so she decides that she will fire McDermott and Grace while Kinnear is away. McDermott grows angry but Grace's story also mixed up and changes in relating it to Dr. Jordan. McDermott kills Nancy by pushing her down into the cellar. He claims that Grace helps him choke her to death but Grace doesn't recall doing that though her handkerchief is found around Nancy's throat. McDermott waits for Kinnear to come home and shoots him in the barn. Grace claims she faints but when she comes to they are on the run. Eventually, she is caught and ends up in prison. Jeremiah hypnotizes Grace and Mary comes out of her claiming to have helped with the murders. Dr. Jordan is shipped off to fight the American Civil War while Grace is helped out by a man who had a crush on her as a young boy and feels guilty for helping to convict her.

Alias Grace is loosely based on a short story but Atwood fictionalized the events. The story is intriguing and Atwood at her best with harsh criticism of gender roles and a mysterious female protagonist. The series was short but entertaining. I wasn't sure what it involved and would like to pick up the book one day as I have enjoyed every novel I've read by Atwood. Her stories do well in adaptation and Gadon is great in the lead role while both Liddlard and Holcroft are great in support. I hope this show spells more adaptations of Atwood's work. 

No comments:

Post a Comment