When They See Us

When They See Us ★★★★½

Ava DuVerney’s new limited series dramatizing the Central Park 5 case is masterful in many ways but crucial and important in others. 
For real, this was one of the most difficult things to watch. My heart was constantly broken and my anger always at a peak. But to break down the series shows some speed bumps. 
The first part is excellent. It deals with the incident and the arrest of the five young boys. How they were treated and a theoretical about how they were coerced into giving false confessions. The five lead actors are terrific and really set the mood of the piece and easily get the audience to see them for what they were: young boys. 
The second part is where I think the series falters. It deals with the trial and it really very more perfunctory than important to that story DuVernay is telling. The cops and the lawyers just aren’t that engaging and it’s subpar courtroom drama at best but it still has amazing moments of power and passion. Not unnecessary but the series’ low point. 
Parts three and four deal with the boys’ time in prison and how their lives have changed once they are released. This is the highlight and some of the most powerful film I think I’ll see all year. Especially part four. This is where DuVernay really gets to dig deep into her themes and messaging. This is where we see the true toll of this miscarriage of justice and the consequences that continue to impede these boys as they now emerge into the world as adults. It shows how the system breeds more crime and that once you are labeled with that Scarlet Letter that few can truly live a life as fully as they should. It’s the complete visualization of the talking points discussed heavily in her masterful documentary 13th. It’s everything. 
Special notice to Part Four which is the best film of the year so far. Jharrel Jerome is a heavyweight actor. All current major actors should be terrified of his talent because is given the right oppose will render them all nonexistent. If he doesn’t get Best Actor at the Golden Globes I wouldn’t be surprised but it will be a crime. The work he does is so so powerful. I was trembling through tears and my heart felt truly broken as if during a loss event in real life. If for no other reason this series should be watched for Part Four. No words I can come up with can do justice to what was shown on screen. 
As an additional note, Part Four also introduces a subplot of sorts into Korey Wise’s life that I don’t know if it is truth of fiction but is crucially important and worthy of adding into the story. Here at the start of pride month we must remember that Trans Rights Are Human Rights. The series dives into trans identity in the Black Community and does some justice despite it being a very small piece of the film. It was beautiful and poetic while adding additional weight to the film. 

I keep struggling with how to rate this because of Part Two. That part is fine but it just doesn’t get to where it needs to. However Part Four is at least six stars so it maintains the series being one of the best things out so far this year. We need to continue speaking truth to power and telling these types of stories. Hopefully we can continue to learn and grow and seek to right the wrongs that have been done and continue to be done.

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