Some time ago, mediocrity was gradually starting to take over creativity in films and shows.
You could feel it with a large number of creations to watch but very few to actually keep close to your heart.
However, some of the recent releases have flipped the scenario once again.
Take the example of Sebastian Fitzek’s Therapy, Bodies, Kaala Paani, and The Fall of the House of Usher, among others.
They have earned a place in the audience’s hearts. Still, originality remains a concern since most of these have been based on books.
All the Light We Cannot See is a new Netflix series from America. Based on the novel by Anthony Doerr, the show has four episodes and runs for an equal number of hours.
It promises an intimate and emotional ride throughout. But is it an addition to the list of shows that pierce your heart or does it fall flat?
Here is my review.
All the Light We Cannot See Synopsis
Marie operates a radio broadcast, which is a crime in Nazi-occupied France. Her sole aim is to spread positivity and find her dad and uncle.
Werner, a German soldier, falls in love with her voice while listening to the broadcast.
Set in the 1930s and 1940s, All the Light We Cannot See puts a blind girl and her acuity at the forefront in the backdrop of Hitler’s inhumane takeover of France.
Directed by Shawn Levy, the show stars Aria Mia Loberti (Marie), Louis Hofmann (Werner), Lars Eidinger (Von Rumpel), Marion Bailey (Manec), Hugh Laurie (Etienne), and Mark Ruffalo (Daniel).
What Works for All the Light We Cannot See
It is one of those rare shows that are heartbreaking and heartwarming, both at the very same time. All the Light You Cannot See takes us back to the days of World War II.
Hitler’s cruelty locks the gate of a French town, under the supervision of German soldiers, so that when the Americans drop bombs at their hideouts, the innocents die alongside.
Among those trapped in the town is a blind girl, who secretly runs a radio broadcast, and a German soldier, who secretly listens to her broadcast.
The stakes are sky-high because both broadcasting and listening are prohibited with the death penalty. Several crucial layers appear as the story moves forward.
The idea is unique and has a lot of flavors to it. Obviously, since the novel was released almost a decade ago, calling the show unique does carry some riders.
Despite having only four episodes, the series boasts a broad spectrum of elements, meeting every expectation for a top-tier show
Its marvelous plotline goes deep, while being sensitive, and evokes dreadful fault lines about an event you may not want to revisit.
The screenplay never lets you think of All the Light You Cannot See as a boring period drama. Rather, the evocative background score breathes life into the narrative.
Further, the meticulous cinematography painstakingly recreates the 1940s, ensuring that the horrors of World War II are neither understated nor sensationalized.
Understandably, no one can ever reproduce the real pain of innocent civilians back then. Still, I feel Shawn Levy, along with his team, has done amazingly well.
Furthermore, as I said in the beginning, All the Light You Cannot See is a heartbreaking series not just in terms of the recklessness of the war but also human relationships, thanks to its mellifluous writing.
When you see the father-daughter bond, you will be smitten. When you see Marie’s conversations with her uncle, it will fill you with warmth.
And then when you witness Werner’s unadulterated affection for Marie, you will have nothing but love in your hearts.
The character interactions and dialogues are flawlessly executed, painting a vivid and emotionally charged narrative.
By the end of the series, you will have goosebumps as you watch the French people finally waking up to freedom.
In closing, a commendable nod to Netflix and the show’s creators for providing the entire transcript of All the Light We Cannot See for free to blind individuals—a significant step forward in enhancing accessibility.
How are the Performances?
Aria Mia Loberti is astonishing as Marie in All the Light We Cannot See. Upon doing a bit of research, I found out that she is legally blind in real life.
And probably, this is the first time a blind actress has played a lead role in a major TV show. Its implications can be really something in terms of disability representation.
Coming back to her performance, Loberti’s artwork is so refined that you cannot guess if she is in her debut role.
Her expressions are nuanced and how she makes everything look so easy is a definite example of grit. Whoever chose her to play Marie made the best decision of their lives.
In one of the scenes, she uses her eyes to reflect an unintended pause. That’s when she had me.
Louis Hofmann returns as Werner after his sublime performance in Dark. The German actor is enjoyable to witness on the screen.
He mixes vulnerability with determination in All the Light We Cannot See to produce an exceptional outing.
Hofmann also rides on his affable undertones that help him maintain the righteousness of his character.
Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of Etienne is the series’ backbone. He is rusty yet reserved yet unequivocal. You will see him in a limited quantity but the effect will be quite resonating overall.
The champion actor Mark Ruffalo is Daniel in All the Light We Cannot See. His jubilant screen presence, straightforward approach, and calming dialogue delivery are factors that make him shine.
Hugh Laurie and Ruffalo combine to create a different kind of magic in this Netflix series.
What Doesn’t Work for All the Light We Cannot See?
Everything is top-notch in the series. I just feel they went on to stretch a few minutes in the final episode probably because the source material was limited in quantity.
The show also doesn’t talk about the timeline of Marie’s blindness. Was she blind from birth or did it happen at a later stage? It is ambiguous though she herself sometimes states of being in darkness forever.
Interestingly, the novel mentions Marie was blind from the age of six. So, there is a bit of contradiction that could have been avoided.
Stream or Skip?
You will say I recommend all that comes my way but it’s impossible to not appreciate good cinema and All the Light We Cannot See is another one of those.