Video: Unbelievable (2019)

Unbelievable was created by Susannah Grant and will be available for streaming starting September 13th.

Unbelievable is an extremely compelling suspenseful drama based on a true story. It stars Kaitlyn Dever who most recently did an A+ job in Booksmart- and she once again does a terrific job at portraying a teenager named Marie Adler who is charged with lying about being raped. It’s based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning article called “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” where Marie tells authorities that she is raped but then proceeds to retract her statements multiple times, after the police pressure her when they find her report to be suspicious. I won’t delve into anymore details in case you have not read the article and want to find out what happens by watching this show which I do recommend you check out!

The series is extremely fast-faced and gets to the point quickly. The first scene involves a cop questioning Marie about the rape incident after it was reported. I liked that we are immediately thrown into crucial circumstances. The following scenes are all distinctly engaging and interesting; you learn that Marie grew up in a series of foster homes, craves attention, and the show gives enough reasoning as to why the police might have had their doubts about Marie’s rape story. I won’t spoil specific details but by the end of episode 1 I myself was conflicted with what actually happened for a short period of time.

This show is very suspenseful as you begin to piece the information that unfolds together. It hardly has moments that drag as the scenes are often captivating if not due to the suspense, due to all the great character moments and the script which is well-written. Most of the dialogue reflects the characters personalities which are very well-defined, interesting and mesh well with all of the other characters in the show.

In fact, all the actresses are a huge highlight; Kaitlyn Dever does a great job at balancing irresponsible teenage angst while also making the audience empathetic towards the circumstances she’s in. Merritt Weaver and Toni Collette as detectives investigating rape crimes compliment each other tremendously well as they have contrasting personalities. Weaver plays Detective Karen Duvall who is a faith filled investigator who follows protocol and is a lot less abrasive than Collete’s character, detective Grace Rasmussen (Ras-muh-sin). Rasmuhsin is a verterran detective who has a bold, unfiltered, and get-it-done achiever personality and can sometimes come off as rude. Both detectives are very different but extremely interesting to watch work together. I felt like they had good chemistry.

I initially wondered how this story would keep the pace up over the course of 8 episodes but the story actually goes beyond the scope of Marie. For the majority of the show, detective Duval and Ras-muh-sin are investigating a series of other rape crimes. We slowly start to see how these rapes collide with Marie’s and what these lead detectives discover is astonishingly Unbelievable.

The sound design is interestingly raw for several conversations but it knows when to be eerie and creepy for suspenseful or dramatic scenes. The cinematography is gorgeous; it’s well shot and color corrected in a very aesthetically pleasing way.

The show is well-knit together. Small conundrums are the fact that the police are very non empathetic and insensitive when initially interviewing Marie. They don’t say, “I’m so sorry this happened to you” or “We apologize for making you explain this multiple times but it’ll help us immensely”. They’re just robotically asking question after question about the rape. They’re not very comfortable questions either- like they ask “Did you get raped vaginally, anally or both?” These robotically asked questions seemed like they were written this way solely so we could dislike the cops and not to reflect real circumstances. I could be totally wrong and maybe this is just police protocol but it’s something that felt contrived to me.

I have no problem with the doubts that the police have involving Marie’s story, as the show provides enough legitimate reasoning as to why they doubt her. Totally wrong of them to pressure Marie the way that they do but the show presents it in a way that is heart-breakingly believable.

The other thing that felt contrived and seemed like it was done to just to build dislike and animosity towards characters was Marie’s friends almost all sending her hate messages after it goes public that she apparently fabricated the story. I so badly wanted Marie to explain to someone the legitimate reasons as to why she felt like she had to change her story. Instead she just sobs as all her friends dissipate from her life.

The conclusion which I will not spoil was satisfying. You could probably think of more extreme twists and turns they could have taken but the show decides to stick to its source material and display true events which I appreciate.

Ultimately you should invest the time into watching this unbelievable compelling miniseries, which sheds light on a remarkable true story and also gets us to ask about interrogating procedures police use with their victims.

Final Verdict:Unbelievable is an extremely compelling suspenseful drama based on a true story.