Netflix’s newest addition, The Sinner, has received some incredible reviews; but does the show live up to expectations?
Recently, it seems that Netflix can do no wrong, with a flurry of new and exciting shows appearing each week. But, arguably, none have received such stellar reviews as The Sinner, an American drama. The Sinner premiered on The USA Network earlier this year before bursting onto Netflix. But does it deserve the plaudits?
The Cast of The Sinner
The crowning glory of The Sinner is its incredibly talented cast of stars. Jessica Biel leads as Cora Tannetti. Tannetti is an emotionally and mentally tormented mother and wife who commits a seemingly random act of crime. Whilst Biel has been hit and miss throughout her career, it’s safe to say that she shines in this role. She plays the role of unhinged murderess beautifully, and- despite her very clear guilt- evokes sympathy from viewers as we get to grips with her past.
She constantly keeps viewers on their toes. Biel switches between a sobbing imprisoned mother who misses her son, to an unhinged, haunted woman who is dramatically affected by her heavily religiously childhood.
Biel is essentially playing the role of several characters here. They each have vastly different personalities, and she definitely deserves the high praise she is receiving. But, Biel is not the only excellent performance viewers are blessed with in The Sinner.
Bill Pullman deserves high praise for his role as twisted but lovable detective, Harry Ambrose. Through the eight episodes, we watch as he struggles to juggle his own personal demons, whilst trying to uncover Cora’s. Detective Ambrose becomes somewhat obsessed with her case, and tries ceaselessly to uncover the truth in her past. Pullman’s performance is incredible to watch, and causes the show to be even more intriguing.
The Plot of The Sinner
The Sinner differentiates itself from the usual crime drama/thriller plot in the sense that we find out in the first episode that Cora is undoubtedly guilty. From the very first episode, the cinematography is intriguing; the use of a beach for the scene of a crime is unnerving, especially since said beach is overflowing with happy families and children.
The plot is ceaselessly captivating; there’s never a point where you can guess what led Cora to commit murder. The most interesting thing about the entire plot is not the stereotypical ‘who-dunnit’ theme, but the reasons behind Cora’s psychotic break.
The plot focuses on Cora’s memories in a series of flashbacks- each one more intriguing than the last – what made a seemingly innocent mother and wife commit such a violent crime?
We see the story unfold through Cora’s eyes; her memories are the main plot line, yet because she is so clearly disturbed she becomes an unreliable narrator. This only adds to the intrigue of the series. Can we trust what Cora remembers, or is her mental state so unstable that she’s not sure of the truth anymore?
In addition to all the intrigue and fascination, the series is genuinely frightening. The idea of a woman snapping for absolutely no reason is scary. And uncovering lost memories along with Cora means that you never really know what to expect. It’s been a long time since a tv show or movie frightened me to the point of having to keep a light on, but ‘The Sinner’ managed it easily.
The Themes of The Sinner
The Sinner is heavy with real-life issues, which adds to the intriguing nature of the show. The show deals with a variation of themes, varying from extreme religion to heavy drug use, and doesn’t sugar-coat anything.
The avoidance of glamorising drug abuse – like a lot of shows do – is refreshing, and really opens your eyes to the struggles that come with drugs and alcohol. Whilst the show doesn’t directly tackle drug abuse, it does use it as a major theme; thus, bringing awareness to the every day struggles of a drug addict, or someone trying to break their drug habit.
In addition, The Sinner works in some issues regrading the American healthcare system- which is relatable now more than ever before. It’s obvious, from the very first episode, that Cora is both mentally and emotionally unstable, yet doesn’t appear to have any help in tackling her demons.
Her mental health is largely ignored by many characters early in the show, and Detective Ambrose seems to be the only character aware of her struggles, and her need for help. This raises questions and much-needed awareness about the current healthcare system in terms of mental health support.
In case you hadn’t guessed yet, I think that The Sinner definitely deserves the stellar reviews it has received. With a top-notch cast, an intriguing plot, and a clever inclusion of important themes, The Sinner is a show you definitely don’t want to miss.