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Brilliant Girls | Channel

Elisabeth Moss in The Shining Girls.

TO DISPLAY:

shiny girls

WHERE TO WATCH:

Apple TV Plus

OUR RATING:

4.5/5 stars

WHAT IS IT ABOUT :

Newspaper archivist Kirby Mazrachi’s dreams of becoming a journalist are put on hold after she survives a brutal attack that leaves her in an ever-changing reality.

WHAT WE THOUGHT:

Trauma and grief are strange beasts – forces that can hinder a person’s inner growth or serve as a catalyst. It’s almost always an outside force, intruding on people’s lives without their permission, and how one reacts to it varies from person to person. It’s been the subject of many stories, but few have tackled it as imaginatively or gruesomely as Apple TV+’s supernatural thriller. shiny girls.

The eight-episode (probably) limited series centers on Kirby, a newspaper archivist still struggling to recover from an assault that nearly claimed her life and turned her reality into an ever-changing nightmare. When the body of another woman killed in the same manner as Kirby’s attack is found, she begins to track down the killer with the help of a reporter, Dan. But the closer they get to the truth about the serial killer’s twisted mind, the more impossible it seems.

Although set in an American city, the series is based on a novel by South African writer Lauren Beukes – a prolific fantasy and horror writer who has achieved incredible success locally and internationally. If you’ve read the book, it’s important to know that there are many changes, almost all of them needed for the small screen and signed by Beukes while he was executive producer. Instead of being told from each victim’s point of view, everything is told from Kirby’s point of view as she re-enacts the murders. They’ve left out the romantic subplot entirely with only hints, added new elements and characters, and fleshed out the killer’s background a bit more – without giving it too big a scene. Although I haven’t read that particular book, I am familiar with Beukes’ other work, and it’s clear that this television version is its own “persona”, retaining the core of the original but giving audiences a more complete. .

Played by super talented Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men, The Handmaid’s Tale), it’s a tragically accurate portrait of a broken and traumatized woman trying to take her power back from the one who took it. Every time her reality changes – a pet, her hair, her partner, her job – she must relive the grief of what she lost in her old reality. It encapsulates in stark contrast the waves of trauma that can hit a person, focusing entirely on the victim without glorifying the aggressor. Moss uses his knack for honed subtle cues The Handmaid’s Tale here to great effect and has an iron grip on Kirby’s story arc – evolving from a timid bomb-struck survivor to harnessing a power that not only helps her come to terms with and reshape her trauma, but also to help others. She’s such an engaging actress, carefully selecting her projects where she can really shine, and this series is no exception.

This performance is perfectly balanced with that of Jamie Bell (RocketmanBilly Elliot) interpretation of his misogynistic, prideful and greedy enemy. Frightening, meticulous and disturbing, Bell plays a perfect villain, despicable from start to finish. Thankfully, the TV writer has moved away from giving him any redeeming qualities or a tragic past that would help you “understand” his actions. From start to finish, he is a repulsive creature, using his ill-gotten supernatural means to target women he deems “rising above their positions”. Bell is incredibly meticulous about his performance and has the ability to turn the charm on and off depending on his character’s needs. Alongside Moss, they make a great ensemble despite only sharing the screen a few times throughout the series, but when they do, the show shines brightly.

As for journalist Dan, played by Wagner Moura (Narcos), he’s almost a buffer in between, balancing between his demons of addiction and wanting to tell people’s stories. It’s a pretty sad portrait of a journalist, struggling to cope with his obsession with following the story, but he has a loving dynamic with Kirby/Moss and is the most human character in the story.

My only gripe with the series is the ending – abrupt, almost disappointing and depressing, with Kirby never fully healing. We don’t get many answers about how supernatural elements work. While the unraveled mystery sometimes works, in this case it’s more boring than anything else, leaving audiences with squeaky dissatisfaction. With its finality, it’s unlikely there will be a second season that would go beyond the book, but it still feels somewhat incomplete.

However, the lackluster ending shouldn’t put you off. shiny girls the least. There’s more than enough to chew on throughout the show, and between great writing and outstanding performances, it’ll keep you hooked until the end. More than anything, it will inspire you to go out and grab some of Beukes’ work and see what his incredibly imaginative brain has come up with.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: