When They See Us: enraging, heartbreaking, potent; Ava DuVernay is perfectly aware of the power of all elements of this story, and milks them for maximum emotional effect. Each main character is given enough time for their suffering to be quite evident and their differences to be shown; the result is that those characters, and their families, are not generic in their plights, but rather feel like rounded human beings. The series very efficiently moves from one beat to the next, in such a way that the details are clear and so are the emotional impacts. Good acting is doubly important in a project like this, as it is crucial to get connected to the characters and story. Thankfully, such is the case here: acting is generally excellent, from the big names to the new faces, alas too many to mention individually. Jharrel Jerome is the highlight, as he gets to play the more complex arch and delivers beautifully. Felicity Huffman is rather fine as the absolutely hateful person behind it all. Cinematographer Bradford Young’s work is very expressive, particularly in the way the subjects are framed. The craft is all top-notch, in particular Caroline Duncan’s costume design. It’s a hard sit, but a needed one.
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