The Assassination of Gianni Versace (2018)


The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (2018)

Studio: FX; Starring: Darren Criss, Edgar Ramirez, Ricky Martin, and Penelope Cruz

On July 15, 1997 an internationally famous fashion designer was murdered in front of his Miami Beach mansion by a crazed spree killer. This was the basis of the series.

Midway through episode #2 of the series it occurred to me to wonder where they could possibly take this well known story in order to fill up 9 episodes. The answer: after the Versace murder (not an assassination) the narrative was woven backwards through time with fictitious accounts of the perpetrator Andrew Cananan, and with imagined scenes and dialogue from Versaceís past.

The senseless killing which became a sensation, and the details surrounding it could have been adequately portrayed in 2 or 3 episodes. Unfortunately it was drug out to 9. Presumably FX was only interested in a 9 episode series, so the writers had to comply. In doing so they decided on an unusual and risky production method. It didnít work. Telling the story backwards from the murder resulted in confusion about the characters, the timeline, and puzzlement over what several of the side stories had to do with the main plot. Therefore the series was jumbled and wandering, which took away any tension that might have been established by another method.

To his credit Darren Criss showed flashes of brilliance in his performance of the psychopathic Cunanan. Providing his character with any continuity must have been a Herculean project. This resulted in an uneven portrayal. Still his work was often at the highest level as he fashioned his award winning performance. In fact there were no poor performances in the entire series.

But the series itself was erratic and perplexing. Itís surprising that it won the Golden Globe, when there were other better series of its type; for example
Escape at Dannemora. Presumably the key points in its win were due to its robust presentation of homosexuality, along with the underlying theme of historical homosexual persecution. Hollywood has been in love with homosexual characters and stories for the past several years. Itís as if homosexuality has been added to the unwritten list of elements that must be included in any production, the practice of which has been amply celebrated by industry awards.

First rate performances, second rate series. Docís rating: 6/10

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