Alias Grace Review – Spoiler Free
Alias Grace is a new original series from Netflix which comes in 6 parts. The series is based on a novel written by Margaret Atwood, which was based on the true story of Grace Marks. The series stars Sarah Gadon, Edward Holcroft, Rebecca Liddiard, Zachary Levi, Kerr Logan, Paul Gross and Anna Paquin.
Alias Grace retells the story of what happened to Grace Marks who is an immigrant from Ireland that was imprisoned in 1843 for the murder of Thomas Kinnear. What’s interesting about the plot is that Grace claims she has no memory of what’s going on at all and is possibly innocent. The story is set up in a way that as it unfolds you in the audience hear about her life and what had happened to her, but you don’t really know if she’s innocent or guilty of the murder the whole way through. Grace retells her story to a doctor who visits her, Simon, who sits and listens to her for each of the episodes and we slowly uncover what happened from Grace’s point of view. I don’t want to go into more of the story than this as you can gather similar points from the trailer. But I would like the mention that Alias Grace was a story I came to really enjoy.
Alias Grace is a series which tells the slow tale of what happened to Grace and as it does take some time to unfold, but during the tale a significant amount of character development occurs. This was something that I loved about the show, by the end of the 6 episodes, you do really feel that you know Grace quite well and the narration of certain parts by Grace herself certainly helps with doing that. Much like doctor Simon, I was intrigued to hear more of what she had to say or what she was getting up to. Her daily tasks, her goings about, the people she met, her interactions with everyone. Other characters were also well written and their descriptions and their depictions from Grace’s point of view did well for the telling of the tale. All of the characters were all so interesting to see.
The directing of all six episodes for Alias Grace was done by Mary Harron, who some may know as the director for the much loved American Psycho (2000). Alias Grace is set in what I think is a difficult time period for many stories, the 1800’s and in a farm environment where nothing really exciting can happen. But there is something strangely alluring about a murder and in a time when people were very religious and conservative it’s almost out of place in their quiet lives, even more so when a woman is the murderess.
Mary Harron did well to capture the right tone for the telling of Grace Marks’ story, which is one with heavy themes surrounding murder and the guilt that comes with it as well as the type of person that would commit such a thing. Exploring Grace Marks’ character in this way brought with it quite a lot of issues with the society in which she lives. Women at that time just weren’t as free as they are now and there was much abuse towards them from the men of that period. This was even more so for women who were working in the homes as helpers and were under the employ of wealthy men who had a whole household of helpers. The damage that bad men can cause to women during that time was a significant theme running alongside the murder plot and was something that was interesting, but possibly difficult to direct. But the pacing of the story, the balancing of the themes and the slow uncovering of Grace’s character and other characters as well was the highlight of the show and Mary Harron did this well for all six episodes with this.
The acting in this series was very well done. As much as I liked hearing about Grace’s story, I enjoyed Sarah Gadon’s performance. As the central character for the series Sarah had a lot to do here and a lot of chances to impress and she certainly did, I’d certainly want to see more from her in the future. Edward Holcroft was also quite good as Dr. Simon Jordan who spent much of his time listening to Grace’s tale. There’s also an appearance from Zachary Levi who I haven’t seen in anything since Chuck (2007) but he certainly has improved on his acting. Anna Paquin and Rebecca Liddiard were also two very good actresses and had some great scenes in the show with Sarah Gadon, the three worked well together.
The look of the show is always something I pay attention to. The costumes in this were all very nice, the women wear dresses and bonnets and the men wear suits. Everyone had a different look depending on their position in society and with the variety of characters and personalities it can be hard to dress all those people. But I was glad to see quite a lot of colour in the show for a period which usually has a lot of brown’s and greys. The filming locations, the design of the homes for the characters as well as the furniture choices were also well made.
Overall Alias Grace is a great TV series to give a go this weekend. The life and the story of Grace Marks is an interesting one and the retelling of it over the 6 episodes was fascinating. The story is set in the 1800’s and is filled with murder, intrigue and the problems of the society of that time. Each episode is very well directed by Mary Harron. Sarah Gadon who is the lead actress playing Grace Marks was certainly very impressive and was truly the star of the show. The story is well written with strong character development along the way. I highly recommend checking this out on your next free weekend at home.