Drama driven from beyond
There are many reasons to recommend this new series from Netflix — perhaps not quite 13, but still. One would be that the first two episodes are directed by Oscar-winner Tom McCarthy ( Spotlight); a second would be that it is produced by superstar singer and actress Selena Gomez (originally slated to play the lead role).
But above all others is that it announces the arrival of a fantastic new talent in the form of Perth-born actress Katherine Langford.
The 20-year-old plays Hannah Baker, a teenager who we know from the outset has committed suicide. “Why?” is question on everyone’s lips. And the story, based on the bestselling books by Jay Asher, is significantly more nuanced than it might first seem.
Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah — his classmate and crush — before her death. In them she explains that there are 13 reasons why she 13 Reasons Why decided to end her life, and the recipient is obliged to listen to the end, to travel to locations around the town as directed, to discover the extent they are culpable, and pass on the tapes at their conclusion. Or else bad things will happen.
Through Clay’s journey and flashbacks to Hannah’s arrival in town, it presents a compelling vision of the teenage experience, reminiscent of Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides.
Langford is outstanding. Even though we see her experimenting with her nascent sexual power over boys, and pursuing the “bad boy”, with predictable results, she captures a certain otherworldly sadness. You will see a lot more of Langford in the future — you read it here first. streaming on Netflix from Friday. For support and information about suicide prevention, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Katherine Langford displays an otherworldly sadness in the series