HDIM Reviews: Alias Grace (2017)

My favourite accent has always been the Irish accent, but I never knew that there were sub-accents(?) that differ depending on which part of Ireland you are from (now that I’ve said that, it kinda makes perfect sense although my ear would probably not be able to tell the difference).

Apparently the accent that Canadian actress, Sarah Gadon has in her role as is-she-isnt-she-a-murderess, Grace Marks, is a Northern Ireland accent. And she nailed that role so hard, your head is left spinning after watching the conclusion.

Sarah Gadon stuns in Alias Grace

Spoilers ahead!

The 6-part series, Alias Grace explores the story about a maid named Grace Marks, who at the start of the show, had been serving time for her part in two gruesome murders. A doctor is asked to come talk to her, to garner any sense of real guilt or innocence in her, and hopefully, secure a release for her after 15 years of imprisonment.

The show is based on a 1996 book by Margaret Atwood, who also wrote The Handmaid’s Tale. And Atwood fictionalised it from an 1843 true story where a maid of the same name was convicted of two gruesome murders many were not entirely convinced she had a hand in.

Over the six episodes, Grace would tell the doctor about how she had been treated during her incarceration in the asylum and in prison, how her mother had died during the journey over, and had left her and her siblings under the care of an abusive drunkard father.

Grace speaks to the good doctor while tending to her chores

She told him about how she became employed as a maid, where she would find solace and a friend in Mary Whitney, a crucial character in her story.

Spoilers ahead!

Mary would become pregnant with a child that belonged to the master of the house and of course we all know how that will turn out. She tries to have the baby aborted but succumbs to the procedure, bleeding to death that same night in the bed she sleeps in.

Grief-stricken, Grace leaves the household for a job with higher pay and moves to the home where the murders would eventually occur. We then get to see who the victims and the co-conspirators were to Grace, and what led up to the murders.

Well, at least up until the murders, after which, Grace would have no memory of. How convenient.

Throughout the series, the doctor is shown to develop an attraction (fuelled by pity, perhaps) to Grace (it’s that accent, I tell ya), and every time someone tells him that Grace is capable of lies and deceit, that seems to make him want to help her more. In the final episode, he eventually allows a Dr DuPont to conduct hypnotism on Grace to restore some of her memories of the event.

The seance scene

The finale is an episode you do not want to miss.

Verdict: Watch it if murder mysteries do not make you squeamish and you are up for slow-burn storytelling. Runtime is 45 mins x 6 episodes.

HDIM Reviews: Mowgli (2018)

Andy Serkis’s Mowgli is basically Jungle Book, the “Dark Knight” version.

I recently read my daughter’s Jungle Book school textbook (graphic novel) for English. Amongst many other retellings, this film version is close (if not closest) to the book version. And things got dark pretty much from the get-go.

The story is slower, methodical, disturbing and rooted in reality. For instance, Mowgli looks perpetually starving. The wolves don’t have clean, trimmed, silky fur. The elephants have moss growing on top of their heads and bodies.

It’s different of course, you’re used to seeing things prim and proper whereas here you have a Shere Khan who is in bad need of a shave. And Tabaqui has an appearance only a mother can love (not this mother though). 

Ugly as sin

From his time in LOTR, Serkis has revolutionised virtual production, as he calls it. In Mowgli, the characters show human facial expressions and emotions. If you don’t already know, Serkis himself voices Baloo the Bear who teaches the Laws of the Jungle. He doesn’t sign about Bare Necessities in this one. 

A somewhat eerie yet important observation one can make is that the eyes of the “animals” reflect those of humans. As uncomfortable as the thought makes me, it’s incredible that this can be translated onto the screen. I’m no expert but this is award-winning stuff right here.

It’s interesting to know that in the book, Kaa, the snake was a good guy, and that Shere Khan was trampled to death by panicked cows in an ambush masterminded by Mowgli and his brother wolves.

In this movie, Kaa is a seer who can see into the past and future, and she is neither friend nor foe. Shere Khan dies in the hands of Mowgli in a brutal not kid-friendly way.