Writer Sarah Polley, director Mary Harron and star Sarah Gadon deliver a twisty tale of murder and transgressive femininity in Netflix’s Margaret Atwood adaptation.
With its Margaret Atwood pedigree, concealing bonnets and backdrop of a society in which women are either decorative or chattel, there will be an instinct to compare Netflix and CBC’s miniseries Alias Grace to Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
It’s an instinct best avoided, because for all of the ways in which The Handmaid’s Tale is bombastic and incendiary, Alias Grace is internalized and simmering and harder to instantly mobilize around. Consistently literate, thoughtful and insinuating, the mini also boasts an intriguing and deliberately evasive lead performance by Sarah Gadon, work that again probably shouldn’t be compared to the juggernaut that is Elisabeth Moss’ Handmaid’s Tale work.
So from here on, there will be no more references to Handmaid’s Tale.
Written in its entirety by Sarah Polley and directed in its entirety by Mary Harron, the six-episode Alias Grace won’t air until Nov. 3 on Netflix, but had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and will launch on Sept. 25 on CBC. I’ve seen the entire miniseries.
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