Brit Marling’s The OA gets four stars

 

Fans of Stranger Things will appreciate this similarly fantastical mystery from the Netflix Original team.

Do not mistake this for another high school show centered around the dramas and insecurities of teenage years. Although the show follows the transformation of five of the main characters in high school, its subplot revolves around the larger story: the attempts of a young girl to recollect her life. The OA (Brit Marling) resurfaces after disappearing seven years earlier, and she and the surrounding characters venture to piece together the story of her captivity. But this isn’t your traditional kidnapping story either: this is a fantasy story at its core.

Writers and producers Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij have created a highly imaginative tale in which Marling herself gives a beautiful and unique performance as the OA. The OA is a surreal character who reminds you of one of the iconic, shockingly impressive and slightly unrelatable heroines like as Uma Thurman in Kill Bill.

Surrounding that story is the high school and small community narrative of a girl returned from a seven-year long kidnapping, causing ripples that effectuate well-performed character development in Steve Winchell, played by Patrick Gibson, and a surprisingly touching teacher, played by Phyllis Smith.

Although I was gripped by the plot, the cinematography was entrancing. Slow shots, innovative acting and compelling imagery add to the psychological draw of the show. I found that certain images from earlier episodes – the long shot of the bus hurtling off the road, a young OA walking into the lake – lingered in my mind, replicating the way that the characters are haunted and shaped by their own pasts. Some of the more symbolic imagery reminds me of other shows like Penny Dreadful which have been coming into vogue lately.

Like Stranger Things, the real drive of the story here is the mystery itself, which slowly unravels at an uneven but compelling pace. This mystery is not filled with the meticulous clues and details of a Sherlock Holmes mystery, but rather with the human emotion and imagery of a much more dramatic, nuanced work.

Sometimes, the pacing of the story can be slow and I grew impatient a few times in the middle of the season, but I’m so glad that I made it to the dramatic and thrilling final episode which has left me eagerly anticipating Series Two.

Unsplash @ Pixabay

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