STATELESS (L to R) YVONNE STRAHOVSKI as SOFIE WERNER and JAI COURTNEY as CAM SANDFORD in episode 101 of STATELESS Cr. BEN KING/NETFLIX © 2020

Stateless‘ is a powerful and timely series about four strangers whose lives collide at an immigration detention center in the middle of the Australian desert: an airline hostess on the run from a dangerous cult, an Afghan refugee and his family fleeing persecution, a young father escaping a dead-end job and a bureaucrat running out of time to contain a national scandal.

The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Yvonne Strahovski plays airline hostess Sofie Werner. Pressured in maintaining a perfect façade towards her family, she loses herself in a cult lead by Cate Blanchett – in one of the most chilling performances of her career (she also executive produces the limited series) – and her on screen partner Dominic West (The Affair). Over six episodes we witness Sofie’s mental health deteriorating, while we figure out how exactly she ended up between refugees at a detention center in the middle of the Australian Outback.

Strahovski delivers a career best performance, but it’s Fayssal Bazzi (The Commons) as Afghan-refugee Ameer, who embodies his character’s struggles, bringing an emotionally heavy force to every scene he’s in. Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad) and Asher Keddie (Swinging Safari) both impress as a guard who struggles with his own moral standards in his new job, and a bureaucrat who finds it hard to run a detention center, respectively. What’s so satisfying about this acting ensemble’s performances, is the way all their characters have been fleshed out, giving the actors a chance to showcase the growth of their part while challenging their personal ability to “tread the boards”.

Tony Ayres (Glitch), Cate Blanchett (Mrs. America), Elise McCredie and Belinda Chayko (Safe Harbour) have created a genuinely important narrative. Compellingly directed by Emma Freeman (Glitch) and Jocelyn Moorhouse (The Dressmaker), it’s important to recognise the predominantly female crew as some of Australia’s biggest talents who have based the story of Stateless on real life events, amplifying the voices of those that were silenced while on the run for a range of different reasons.

Stateless hits hard, rarely misses the mark and lingers long after its final title card, making this limited series one of the most important pieces of Australian storytelling, reaching far beyond its national borders. This story could easily have been set on any other continent that makes it impossible for immigrants to feel welcome, but instead locks them up in detention centers. An emotional statement on the failures of a system that abuses human freedom and the right to survive.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Netflix Review – ‘Stateless’

Reviewed on Netflix, July 9, 2020. Rating: 16+ Running time: 6 x 50 min.

PRODUCTION: A Screen Australia and The Australian Broadcasting Corporation presentation, in association with The South Australian Film Corporation of a Matchbox Pictures, Dirty Films production. Producers: Sheila Jayadev, Paul Ranford. Executive producers: Tony Ayres, Cate Blanchett, Andrew Gregory, Elise McCredie, Andrew Upton, Liz Watts.

CREW: Directors: Emma Freeman, Jocelyn Moorhouse. Created by: Tony Ayres, Cate Blanchett, Elise McCredie, Belinda Chayko. Camera: Bonnie Elliott. Editors: Mark Atkin, Martin Connor. Music: Cornel Wilczek.

WITH: Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney, Asher Keddie, Fayssal Bazzi, Dominic West, Cate Blanchett, Marta Dusseldorp, Marta Dusseldorp, Darren Gilshenan, Kate Box.

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