‘Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story’ Review Roundup: Series Focuses On Killer Rather Than Victims
The Assassination of Gianni Versace is the next series to come out for Ryan Murphy‘s American Crime Story anthology. It recounts the events of the notorious 1997 murder of the famed Italian fashion designer by serial killer Andrew Cunanan. Versace was his fifth and final victim. The nine episodes are like mini standalone films, with the only recurring character being Cunanan, played by Darren Criss. Criss spectacularly plays the bespectacled and closeted murderer, and gives a good argument for why gay actors should be cast as gay characters more often.
Penelope Cruz, Edgar Ramirez, Ricky Martin, Judith LIght, and Jon Jon Briones star in the series.
THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE: AMERICAN CRIME STORY REVIEW ROUNDUP
“The smartest thing about the show is that, in stark contrast to the courtroom procedural style of The People v OJ Simpson, each episode plays like a standalone film. Versace’s name may be in the title, but Miglin, Trail and Madson get almost as much backstory, not to mention Cunanan, the only character who appears in every episode. Which is to say that, in the world of the show, queer lives mean very little to law enforcement; in the world of Ryan Murphy, though, they’re each deserving of attention, regardless of wealth or fame.
–Jake Nevins, The Guardian
“Penélope Cruz is stone-cold perfect as Versace’s muse and sister, the hardened Donatella, and Darren Criss is chillingly convincing as the psychopathic Cunanan. The downside here is that this series, based on actual events and inspired by Maureen Orth‘s book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History, is sometimes too dark and brutal in its re-creation of the murders. The very nature of the crimes, sadistic and premeditated, makes this series far more grim than The People v O.J. Simpson. It demands that viewers pay attention to homicides that went largely unnoticed until Versace’s, and it’s a lot to ask. The victims include Cunanan’s ex-lover and Chicago tycoon Lee Miglin… The second installment of the “American Crime Story” anthology lends these victims the respect they deserve. It’s up to viewers to decide whether they’re willing to explore the pain and injustice just beneath the tabloid headlines.”
–Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times
“Murphy said when the series was in production that he was interested in ‘More than why [Versace] was killed… was why it was allowed to happen,’ something that he attributes to a homophobic reluctance by law enforcement agencies to work with the gay community. He’s also suggested that Cunanan’s murders took on an intellectual quality, that he murdered victims ‘specifically to shame them and out them and have a form of payback for a life that he felt he could not live.’ Having seen eight of the nine episodes of the mini-series, I’m not convinced that this installment of the franchise makes either of those cases effectively, or even that homophobia is what the series is actually most interested in.
–Alyssa Rosenberg, The Washington Post
“This is neither a documentary, nor a deposition, and its responsibility may be to just be true enough. But there’s something tragic and unfair about becoming a spectacle in death, especially in a spectacle that’s more about a murderer than any of his victims. Not everyone in this story wanted to be famous.”
–Margaret Lyons, The New York Times
“However, the series’ strengths lie in its spectacle. Murphy has a knack for grandiosity, and, as with American Horror Story, Versace marries the extravagant with the violent. Even when the series stretches its plot too thin, bold direction mostly makes up for it, ensuring that there is always something to look at, either beautiful or repulsive. Versace will inevitably be compared to People v. O.J., so it’s better that it stands apart from the earlier Emmy-winning chapter. What it does well, it does extremely well, and its mix of beauty and horror will stick with you long after its episodes conclude.”
–Kelly Lawler, USA Today