June 15, 2024

Saint X Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online

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Saint X Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online

Amysterious man running in the woods. Police scouring the night with flashlights. A dead white girl submerged in water, naked, hair blond and nails painted. The opening minutes of the new Hulu limited series Saint X tread familiar territory – this could be one of many so-called “dead girl” shows, which begin with a corpse (usually pretty, almost always white) and solve the mystery of her demise. Saint X, the 2020 novel by Alexis Schaitkin, drew praise for subverting the narrow expectations of an old genre, dating back to Twin Peaks and running through such series as Veronica Mars, True Detective, Top of the Lake and, more effectively, Sharp Objects and Mare of Easttown, not to mention countless true crime shows and films.

The TV adaptation of Saint X, produced by one Aubrey Graham (AKA Drake) and developed by Leila Gerstein, aims to preserve the book’s methods of complicating the dead girl script: multiple perspectives, a curiosity about the impact of a sensationalized murder beyond the immediate family, an uneasy commentary on our collective fascination with true crime. The pilot, indistinctly directed by Mudbound’s Dee Rees, starts with a body – that of Alison Thomas (West Duchovny, daughter of David and Téa Leoni), a Princeton freshman on holiday with her wealthy New York exurb family on the Caribbean island of Saint X (all gleaned from unrelentingly clunky exposition). It then quickly roves elsewhere, on at least four timelines.

The eight-part series has noble intentions, namely its interest in Black Caribbean characters imperiled by the death of a young white tourist. (The death of Alison – an 18-year-old last seen on a Caribbean island in the early 2000s partying with two local boys, turned into a media fixation – is clearly modeled on the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba.) Unfortunately, its execution muddles the message on almost all levels. The timeline-switching is chaotic, the acting wooden, the pace doleful and the aesthetic cheap-looking.

At the center of the series, at least for many of the 45-ish minute episodes, is another white girl: Emily Thomas (Alycia Debnam-Carey), a pseudonym for young Claire (Kenlee Anaya Townsend), who was seven years old when her big sister died and who has struggled with a lack of answers ever since. In the present – cue, for her entrance, Doja Cat’s Woman – Emily is a documentary film editor who has avoided the Reddit threads dedicated to her sister and recently moved to New York’s Caribbean neighborhood of Flatbush with her perfectly understanding boyfriend, Josh (Pico Alexander).

Emily is schooled in therapy-speak and desperate to know the sister she couldn’t understand as a child. (“Is it hard living in a Caribbean neighborhood?” her therapist asks – little in this show is subtle.) A chance encounter with a cab driver, Clive (Josh Bonzie), one of two Black resort service workers last seen with Alison the night she died (the other being Edwin, played by Jayden Elijah), prompts an obsessive spiral; she attempts to befriend the gruff, emotionally locked down Clive and deceive him into revealing what happened. (The answer is ultimately delivered on the other, vaguely early 2000s timeline at the resort – not to be confused with three characters’ separate flashback timelines, which are coded sepia and gray and, though ambitious, altogether too much.)

That’s still not getting to any of the secondary characters at the Saint X resort, all of whom are thinly sketched and mostly archetypical – the drunk single mom, the nice awkward guy, the pervy middle-age crisis dude in an unhappy marriage, the cloying pregnant wife, the chipper gay couple on vacation. The expansive cast and roving scenes at the resort’s breakfast bar invokes, unfortunately for Saint X, the excellent series The White Lotus – all the perspectives but none of the intrigue or subtlety. Every motive is stated plainly. At least Clive, known on Saint X as Gogo, gets some emotional depth, though this is often starkly communicated via silent scowling or punchbag-wearing anger.

There are flashes of a better, sleeker show within this scatter of political, social and emotional ideas: the psychological realism of Emily’s freeze response when she first encounters Clive, the decision to give Sara (Bre Francis), the mother of Clive’s child, a backstory of her own, the snippet of a lurid TV movie about Alison’s death. Alison may be self-absorbed and annoying – she’s the type to say “I’m not really what anyone expects me to be” with complete seriousness, quick to call out her parents’ racism but unwilling to interrogate her attraction to Edwin – but at least she’s not a perfect victim.

Too bad the glimmers of depth are not nearly enough to overcome the show’s deficits. I would enjoy a juicy, discomforting Saint X, a show that paints the sprawling constellation warped by the sensational death of one girl, instead of sketching it in blunt Sharpie. That’s the series, I assume, that its creators thought they were making, but not the one they delivered.

Saint X Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online