The Act - Movie Review

The Act is an American true crime anthology drama web television series that premiered on March 20, 2019, on Hulu. The first season is based on the real life of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and the murder of her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, who was accused of abusing her daughter by fabricating illness and disabilities.

Premise

The series follows the story of Gypsy Blanchard (Joey King), a sick girl confined to her wheelchair. Her relationship with her overprotective mother (Patricia Arquette) turns sour in her desire for independence. She rebels as her mother increasingly grows more protective and controlling, particularly amid her attempt to explore her sexuality. It eventually opens many secrets.[2] Gypsy, who grew up believing she was sick with cancer, discovers she was not sick at all.[3] Her toxic relationship with her mother eventually leads to murder after Gypsy manipulates someone else to kill her.

Creators: Nick Antosca, Michelle Dean
Stars: Patricia Arquette, Joey King, Chloë Sevigny


Hulu is debuting a new true-crime anthology series based on a 2016 Buzzfeed article written by Michelle Dean. The story focuses on the toxic and secret-filled relationship that existed between Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mother Dee Dee, which ended in murder. The series, titled “The Act,” will star Oscar and Emmy winner Patricia Arquette as Dee Dee and Joey King as Gypsy Rose. And Arquette is on a bit of a role these days and beat out a lot of significant performances and actors, specifically Amy Adams in “Sharp Objects,” at the recent Emmy Awards winning Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television for Ben Stiller’s Showtime limited series “Escape at Dannemora.” She was pretty unrecognizable in that show, and she transforms herself again in “The Act.”

King, who’s most recently starred in Netflix’s “The Kissing Booth,” told EW that getting to the emotion and getting into the character of Gypsy was something she was so excited to tackle. But that she was also, “super nervous for.”

The show is being executive produced and being written by Dean, alongside Nick Antosca. According to EW, to Dean, the heart of the show is its emotional complexity. “I’ve spent three years listening to people tell me how crazy they think the people at the heart of this story are, and they were never that crazy to me,” she says. “They always seemed like human beings who had an emotional logic to what they did. Horrible things, but they did them out of truly human impulses. We made that into kind of a mission statement: We want people to understand the people behind the act.”

“The Act’s” tendency to lean into its inherent drama does mean that certain points get made over and over; because there’s no real modulation of tone, we see, for instance, Arquette sharing ironic truisms about the meaning of motherhood with neighbor Chloë Sevigny one too many times. But generally, “The Act” nails what it’s going for — a grotty, nasty, poisonous fable whose punch comes from the fact that some version of it really happened but that would be compelling regardless. The series’s best shots are exteriors of the home where Gypsy and Dee Dee torment one another, shot from below so as to appear looming and menacing and, later, from above, so as to resemble a dollhouse whose inhabitants are guided by some force beyond their understanding. They’re shots a conventionally better show wouldn’t include: Too proudly goofy, too baroque. On this slice of American oddity, though, they end up feeling right.

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