“If the truth is inconvenient, they don’t believe it. Even if they really care about you…“
You can say what you want about Netflix, but you can’t deny they have the best slate of series out there. The platform drops new high profile shows on a weekly basis, it seems like they’ve figured out what consumers like to watch – true crime thrillers. When I read up on Unbelievable‘s striking true story and noticed the stellar cast, I knew it was something I should jump into straight away.
Unbelievable tells the true story of Marie (Kaitlyn Dever), a teenager who was charged with lying about having been raped. The opening scene of the first episode (which comes with a trigger warning!) is as gut wrenching as its subject matter – rape. No exploitative imagery for shock value, just tiny glimpses of what really happened. It’s the aftermath and raw emotions of Marie that make you feel with her.. Everything goes pretty much by the book when it comes to police investigation and further examination at the hospital, but it’s the coldness and distant behaviour of these policemen and nurses that makes it all even worse. As if it’s a normal business day, instead of actually helping a traumatised young woman. These following hours are critical for law enforcement in terms of gathering details to reenact the crime, but most of all, someone should be there to make Marie feel safe.
Mentally tired of being questioned by officials and friends, over and over again, Marie heads home to get some rest. What follows after is in some way even more unthinkable and inhumane – when the detectives start to question her truth and the reality of the situation. Confused and misunderstood, her mind starts playing tricks on her and we witness Marie getting bullied into changing her statement – as if nothing ever happened.
The following episodes we meet multiple victims of rape, and detective Duvall (Merritt Wever). Karen Duvall deals with these unspeakable crimes in a way it should be dealt with – gentle, understanding and caring. This show is important and sets a standard in how we as humans can deal with sexual assault in our communities. Soon, she’ll understand there’s a bigger truth to these rapes, when more and more women speak their truth. Accusations should be taken seriously and whenever someone cries for help, we should ring the alarm, instead of ridiculing a victim.
Based on The Propublica & The Marshall Project article “An Unbelievable Story of Rape” and This American Life radio episode “Anatomy of Doubt“, Unbelievable is one of the most powerful series I’ve seen all year. The amount of research that went into bringing a seriously powerful yet awful story to millions of viewers at home, is a rare situation these days.
To have these incredible actors give such heartbreaking performances, is a true feat for anyone who’s had to deal with rape in their life. Dever and Wever have never given stronger and more striking performances in their careers. Dever, coming fresh from her comedic success Booksmart, delves so deep into her character, she’s barely recognisable. Multiple times the despair and fear in her eyes, brought me to tears. Wever gives a very serene and calm performance, before coming out of her shell next to Toni Collette‘s (Hereditary) more “out-there” partner, on the force. Every actor who portrays a victim, delivers a unique perspective in their performance – truly overwhelming and astonishing.
Unbelievable is an important storytelling masterpiece, about women going through trauma, being told by a strong crew. Showrunner Susannah Grant (writer of Erin Brockovich) was the right choice to bring this article to life in the most careful and respectful way. Unbelievable is a must watch!
Review – Unbelievable
Reviewed on Netflix, Sydney, Sept. 10, 2019. ACB Rating: MA15. Running time: 8 episodes of approx. 45min.
PRODUCTION: A Netflix release and feature, in association with CBS Television Studios and Timberman-Beverly Productions. Showrunner: Susannah Grant. Executive Producers: Michael Chabon, Lisa Cholodenko, Katie Couric, Ira Glass, Susannah Grant, Robyn Semien, Sarah Timberman, Ayelet Waldman, Carl Beverly. Co-Producer: Anne M. Uemura.
CREW: Directors: Lisa Cholodenko, Michael Dinner, Susannah Grant. Screenplay: Susannah Grant, Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman, Becky Mode, Jennifer Schuur, based on the article by Ken Armstrong, T. Christian Miller. Camera (color): Quyen Tran. Editor: Jeffrey M. Werner, Keith Henderson. Music: Will Bates.
WITH: Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, Kaitlyn Dever, Vanessa Belle Calloway, Dale Dickey, John Hartmann, Liza Lapira, Elizabeth Marvel, Danielle Macdonald.