Yesterday I finished watching the second season of `American Crime Story` entitled `The Assassination of Gianni Versace`. The anthology series that premiered on FX introduces the story of spree-killer Andrew Cunanan and how meeting Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace turned his life around. What I consider remarkable about the series is that the events are presented gradually so as to keep you entertained and interested in finding out more about Cunanan`s life. The first episode has a very intriguing title: `The Man Who Would Be Vogue` as it opens with the last moments of the designer`s life, the first scene depicting a contrast between Versace and Cunanan in the morning of July 15th 1997, the day of the assassination. The designer -played by Edgar Ramirez- is presented as he wakes up in Miami in his eccentric residence with Italian architectural influences, getting ready for breakfast.
I noticed the specific dramatic tones in directing that easily helped me recognise Ryan Murphy’s work. The well-known director flawlessly presents the narrative in his unique way, combining shots consisting of classical music and European architecture with the ones following the movement of the actors. The suspense in the first scene is also enhanced by the camera angles that have been used to give dimension to the script. I appreciated the vividness of the pastels used for the exclusive cinematography that gave a vintage touch (especially the blue and pink association).
Darren Criss` breathtaking performance as Andrew Cunanan exceeds all expectations as he truly transforms into his character, leaving the audience speechless. The way he impersonates Cunanan is so thrilling and memorable that it makes the series even more striking. Criss is mostly known for his role as Blaine Anderson in the television series `Glee`-also created by Ryan Murphy- but I am certain that after his Award-winning role in the second season of `American Crime Story` he will gain much more recognition. Even if he is initially presented as a handsome, charming and well-educated 20-year-old man, Andrew`s qualities gradually decrease as he hatefully misuses them in committing crimes. During his first encounter with Versace, he is visibly astonished by the designer`s imposing lifestyle and attempts to amaze him with his specific charisma so as to achieve Versace`s compassion.
The second episode of the series introduces the FBI hunt for Andrew Cunanan, settled now, in early May 1997, in Miami for his last murder. The narrative moves forward as Cunanan books a room at the Normandy Plaza, making friends with Ronnie, a local drug addict that has been living at the same motel. The two of them start an escort service for elders on the beach in order to earn money. The following scene presents a dynamic dance given by Darren Criss while delivering an outstanding performance as the twisted and disturbing Cunanan. A 1994 recollection of a Versace fashion runway is presented in parallel, as a family `confrontation` between Gianni and Donatella escalates , suggesting his craving for life that is more meaningful to him than the clothes he creates and his sister`s indifference on the matter. The depth of the scene is ensured by the soundtrack, respectively the song `You showed me` by The Lightning Seeds, which helps with portraying the vintage show in mind.
When it comes to the personal relationships between the main characters, the tricky connection between Donatella and Versace`s partner, Antonio -played by Ricky Martin- develops through the entire show in an endless series of arguments. Another complicated relationship is revealed in the 8th episode -marking Matt Bomer`s directorial debut- and is based on the questionable behavior of Andrew`s father, Modesto. He is initially characterized as a stockbroker that used to represent an exemplary father Andrew could look up to, but is ultimately described as a corrupt businessman that damages Cunanan`s childhood.
The soundtrack chosen for the series is so striking and significant for the era as it consists of numerous hits of the 80`s and the 90`s such as La Bouche`s `Be My Lover`, The Bangles` `Hazy Shade Of Winter` or Laura Branigan`s `Gloria` and `Self Control`. The Adagio piece in G Minor created by Mac Quayle opens and closes the series and gives a whole new dimension to the story, providing an uplifting and chilling touch. The soundtrack is so glamorous yet diverse and all the different pieces of opera and pop music blend together so perfectly, creating an exclusive vintage display for the narrative.
I recommend `The Assassination of Gianni Versace` because everything about it is remarkable, from the script and directing to the brilliant acting and soundtrack and all the way to the emotion it delivers through this powerful and terrifying experience brought to life by the eccentric Ryan Murphy.