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Web Series Review: Expats – A painfully slow series that rests on Nicole Kidman, Ji-young Yoo and Sarayu Blue’s fine performances

en Bollywood News Web Series Review: Expats – A painfully slow series that rests on Nicole Kidman, Ji-young Yoo and Sarayu Blue’s fine performances

Star Cast: Nicole Kidman, Ji-young Yoo, Sarayu Blue, David Tee, Jack Huston

Web Series Review: Expats – A painfully slow series that rests on Nicole Kidman, Ji-young Yoo and Sarayu Blue’s fine performances

Director: Lulu Wang

Synopsis:
EXPATS is the story of three women in unusual circumstances. The year is 2014. Margaret (Nicole Kidman) lives in Hong Kong with her husband Clarke (David Tee), daughter Daisy (Tiana Gowen) and son Philip (Bodhi del Rosario). They lost their other son, Gus (Connor James), in a tragedy some time back and are still trying to cope with the loss. They reside in a condo on the highest point of the city where their neighbour is Hilary (Sarayu Blue). At one point, Margaret and Hilary were close friends. But things soured between them after Margaret accused Hilary’s husband David (Jack Huston) of being involved with the tragedy surrounding Gus. David, meanwhile, has a dark secret. He claims to be off alcohol but secretly visits a bar to have a drink. He’s also having an affair with 25-year-old Mercy (Ji-young Yoo), who caused the tragedy for Gus. What happens next forms the rest of the series.

Expats Story Review:
EXPATS is adapted from the novel 'The Expatriates' by Janice Y K Lee. The story is intriguing and besides the mystery element, it also raises some important issues. Lulu Wang, Alice Bell, Vera Miao and Gursimran Sandhu's screenplay is engaging but wanders to unwanted territories pretty frequently. Also, what could have been depicted concisely is stretched and this happens from start to finish. The dialogues are conversational and straight out of life.

Lulu Wang’s direction is neat. There’s no boring moment in the show as the lives of the characters are deeply engrossing. What also contributes a lot to the show is the Hong Kong setting. The city has a character of its own. Both the expats and the residents are struggling though their worlds are poles apart. There’s also an angle of haves and have nots and in this way, EXPATS also gives a déjà vu of PARASITE [2019]. The Indian audience has a lot to take home from the show as it talks about motherhood, women having to sacrifice careers, the pros and cons of having house help etc. Hilary is later revealed to be a Punjabi and her track with her mother Brinder (Sudha Bhuchar) will surely find resonance with Indian women. Their scene in the elevator is memorable. The track of David and Mercy also has its moments, be it Mercy and David playing a nasty game or David leaving with the coffee machine. The final scene is moving.

On the flipside, the show goes on and on. The common problem with shows is that, unlike films, there’s no limit of run time. Hence, often filmmakers get carried away and tend to add too much into a series. EXPATS comes into this category. There are times when the focus moves away from the principal track. Shockingly, the makers even delve into the lives of friends or acquaintances of side characters and one wonders why. For example, the track of the student protestor and Olivia could have been done away with. The makers should have instead depicted important events that occurred in the main characters’ lives like Margaret accusing David. This important sequence was never shown. The track of the maid didn’t get proper closure. Lastly, the duration of the second last episode is 96 minutes and it’s too much, considering that the other episodes are around 55 minutes long.

Expats performances:
Speaking of performances, Nicole Kidman hits the ball out of the park. She plays the complicated character with ease and the manner in which she depicts her various moods and shades are impressive. Sarayu Blue comes next and she puts up a superb performance. One can’t help but root for her. Ji-young Yoo is a powerhouse of talent and rocks the show. David Tee, Jack Huston and Bonde Sham (Charly) leave a mark. Tiana Gowen and Bodhi del Rosario are decent. Connor James is cute. Ruby Ruiz (Essie) and Amelyn Pardenilla (Puri) are fair. Sudha Bhuchar delivers a fine performance. Jennifer Beveridge (Tilda) and Blessing Mokgohloa (Pastor Alan Mambo) are quite good while Flora Chan (Olivia), Will Or (Tony), Rabbani Kaur (Sukhi), Rajiv Sharma (Fauja), Kavi Raz (Daleep) are okay.

Expats music and other technical aspects:
Alex Weston's music is subtle and works well. Anna Franquesa-Solano's cinematography is terrific as she captures Hong Kong most spectacularly. Yong Ok Lee's production design is appropriate. Malgosia Turzanska's costumes are appealing and rich, as per the demands of the script. Matthew Friedman and Alex O'Flinn's editing is uncomplicated but also painfully slow.

Expats conclusion:
On the whole, EXPATS is a heart-breaking tale and rests on the compelling performances of Nicole Kidman, Sarayu Blue and Ji-young Yoo. But the painfully slow narrative and needless focus on random characters hamper the impact.

Rating - 2.5 stars


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