Coming off the moonshot of 2016’s multiple Emmy-winning The People v. O.J. Simpson, it was almost inevitable that The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story would fly a lot closer to Earth. So narrative gravity is very much a force in the January 17-premiering ACS, and despite a vivid aesthetic reminiscent of the slain fashion designer’s work — and some great performances from a cast led by Edgar Ramirez, Darren Criss, Penelope Cruz, Ricky Martin, Judith Light and Jon Jon Briones — the second installment of Ryan Murphy- and Nina Jacobson-executive produced anthology series simply doesn’t have enough story to justify its length, as I say in my video review above.
On the plus side, underneath the moving back and forth in time and space as the Criss-portrayed killer Andrew Cunanan and Ramirez’s Versace head toward their fatal encounter, there is a solid and sad tale of institutionalized homophobia in the bungled law enforcement pursuit of Cunanan after the 1997 murder of Versace at age 50.
Based on Maureen Orth’s book Vulgar Favor: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History, there is also an investigation into identity and sexuality and the worship of fame. However, those aspects become tangled in the (surprisingly) sometimes dull nine-episode season penned by Tom Rob Smith that is often convoluted in conjecture and has far, too little of the Versaces in it.
There is a search for meaning in the American Dream and the actualized self in the latest American Crime Story, which the Versace family has slammed as “distorted” and “a work of fiction.” But while worthy, like the real-life hunt by the FBI for Cunanan, it stumbles on the path.
Check out my video review above for more of my take on Assassination. Will you be watching tomorrow?
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