The Weekend Australian - Review

FIND­ING UTOPIA

Gil­lian Flynn of Gone Girl fame has writ­ten a con­spir­acy thriller that is eerily pre­scient, a story of truth, spin and friend­ship — set against a pan­demic

- Stream­ing on Ama­zon Prime from Fri­day. Entertainment · Philosophy · Social Sciences · Utopia

stage by grav­ity and tragedy, though there’s just a hint of pro­fun­dity when it comes to Utopia it­self and the hold it has on their lives. Flynn is such a good writer that she quickly makes us em­pathise with their nerdy, ob­ses­sive lives.

Flynn says that she took her in­spi­ra­tion from 1970s para­noia movies like Par­al­lax View and All the Pres­i­dent’s Men, and a time when it was easy to be­lieve in the ex­is­tence of a right­ist con­spir­acy within that estab­lish­ment aimed at de­stroy­ing any­one who threat­ened the power of the mil­i­tary-in­dus­trial com­plex.

“Gnarly, nasty, raw and un­nerv­ing – and yet I wanted to be sure it was peo­pled with the kinds of char­ac­ters you re­ally be­come fond of,” she says. “As I was pitch­ing my vi­sion, I de­scribed it as Marathon Man meets The Goonies. I wanted bursts of fear, epiphany and the kinds of laughs that burst out of you un­ex­pect­edly.”

Well, she cer­tainly achieves that com­bi­na­tion of el­e­ments as the first episode un­folds. And as Haynes says the cen­tral con­ceit of a con­spir­acy thriller where the se­cret is hid­den in­side a comic book is ir­re­sistible. And Flynn, a master sto­ry­teller, knows how to milk it. As a writer what she is par­tic­u­larly good at is al­lud­ing to mys­ter­ies you know are there but can’t yet see, sto­ries with con­tours you can’t to­tally make out.

Brazil­ian artist Joao Ruas pro­vided the draw­ings in­te­grat­ing the graphic nov­els into the nar­ra­tive at Flynn’s in­sis­tence too, so we be­come in­vested in them as char­ac­ters “in­stead of just throw­away McGuffins”. And she and Ruas have hid­den what writers call “Easter eggs”, small parcels of ex­tra in­for­ma­tion, in­side the pan­els to add an ex­tra layer of fun.

And there are many fun di­men­sions as the drama be­gins and we get to know the young comic fans. But the good-na­tured, nerdy feel dis­si­pates halfway through that first episode, in a spasm of vi­o­lence that is to­tally un­ex­pected and moves it all into some­thing far more twisted and com­pelling.

There’s noth­ing like Utopia around, it’s orig­i­nal and from a seem­ingly dif­fer­ent planet, yet know­able and ab­so­lutely com­pelling.

Utopia,

 ??  ?? Jessica Rothe, top left, Ash­leigh LaThrop, Dan Byrd and Desmin Borges in Utopia; LaThrop and Byrd in a scene from the se­ries
Jessica Rothe, top left, Ash­leigh LaThrop, Dan Byrd and Desmin Borges in Utopia; LaThrop and Byrd in a scene from the se­ries

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