The Handmaid’s Tale S1 – 3.5/4
The pilot episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale” may perhaps be one of the best directed episodes of television that I have ever seen.
Not every episode is as strong as the start as we begin to receive expository puzzle pieces in conventional flashbacks. The dialogue is often muted, since our protagonist (played to perfection by Elisabeth Moss) can’t verbalize her emotions as often.
In the source material, a book written by Margaret Atwood, we can have these thoughts and emotions descripted to us. Here, the challenge of the filmmakers was to use design, cinematography, editing and other core components of the medium to demonstrate emotion – a huge success.
Also owed to our great cast (including Bledel, Dowd, Strahovski, Fiennes) the camera angles would often opt for the “Close-up” shot, framing solely our characters face. Through the emotions of Offred the story is almost told entirely.
Her emotions: sad, angry, shocked, anxious tell us so much about the world we are in and through that the exposition naturally blooms.
The ambitious filmmaking tapers off mid-season; the writing half-faithful to its source material – these are nitpicks. With some many great options today for TV series “The Handmaid’s Tale” stands out with its first season. Hopefully Hulu can manage their first critical success to grow and evolve upon the source material.