Home / Entertainment / Ava DuVernay's battered Central Park Five series is an elegant elegy of young lives lost in the system

Ava DuVernay's battered Central Park Five series is an elegant elegy of young lives lost in the system

Niecy Nash (left) and Jharrel Jerome
Niecy Nash (left) and Jharrel Jerome
Photo: Atsushi Nishijima (Netflix)
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If the heartbreaking saga of Central Park Five did not exist, Dick Wolf would have had to invent it. After all, the case of five black and Latino teenagers wrongly condemned for raping and hitting a white woman is exactly the kind of thorny and politically charged story in which Wolf's iconic character Law The franchise was built. Even three decades after the attack and its consequences, it is not uncommon to hear a Unit of special victims the detective makes a side reference to the case or the many lessons he taught. From the risks of coercive interrogation to the dangers of a voracious response from the media, Central Park Five has served as a totem for systemic failure long after its official exoneration.




Michael K. Williams, Vera Farmiga, Felicity Huffman, Niecy Nash, Blair Underwood, John Leguizamo, Christopher Jackson, Joshua Jackson, Omar J. Dorsey, Adepero Oduye, Famke Janssen, Aurora Perrineau, William Sadler, Jharrell Jerome, Jovan Adepo, Aunjanue Ellis, Kylie Bunbury, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Storm Reid, Dascha Polanco, Chris Chalk, Freddy Miyares, Justin Cunningham, Ethan Herisse, Caleel Harris, Marques Rodriguez, Asante Blackk


Miniseries in four parts.

Director Ava DuVernay is not content with the fact that the history of Central Park Five exists as a case study of the application of the law, or for the public to know only men by their reductive nickname. When they see usThe furious and exasperating four-part Netflix series by DuVernay maintains a disciplined approach to the men involved, showing how their lives and communities suffered irreparable damage as a result of their incarceration after their confession under extreme duress. The ground-level approach is in stark contrast to that of Ken Burns, co-director. " Nonfiction badumes the same material, which deals more with procedural errors and how the growing anxiety for metropolitan crime created a bloodthirsty mafia.

Those elements of the story are well represented in the scripted version of DuVernay, but only to the extent that they are required to tell the frightening facts. One night, in April 1989, five boys from Harlem (Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise) literally joined a large crowd. Each child follows a large and disparate group of young black people in Central Park, only to watch in horror as the mafia's idle hands form fists and hit pbaders-by at random. The police arrive to prevent the mob from escalating their violent behavior, and the five children who eventually fall are swept away by the vast network of New York police. Without the knowledge of the children, who were mostly strangers before that night, a 28-year-old runner had been dragged down a Central Park path, raped and beaten within inches of his life.

The attack of the corridor does not seem to fit with the other crimes, in terms of time, space and physical evidence, and children are initially confused when their interrogations are directed towards a violation of which they know nothing. But that does not stop city prosecutor Linda Fairstein (Felicity Huffman) from urging detectives to harvest confessions by whatever means necessary, with widespread public outrage that plunges into top-down political pressure and an entire city demand fast justice. That includes the pressure of a certain real estate developer that once seemed most likely to inspire the main antagonist in a next generation Larry leisure suit Game, but instead became the de facto leader of the free world. The limited series has nothing shameful about calling the president by his name and highlighting how his public pressure for the justice of the high hanged is reflected in his policies towards black and brown people now.

Asante Blackk
Asante Blackk
Photo: Atsushi Nishijima (Netflix)

The first episode is the most difficult to see because it shows in heartbreaking detail the circumstances that would lead anyone, especially a minor, to admit their participation in a violent crime. It is one thing to hear a voice in a documentary that recalls a 30-hour interrogation without eating or sleeping, outside the presence of parents or legal representation and often increased by physical abuse or the threat of it. But it is completely different to see these events dramatized, to see the terror and confusion of the situation acted by the newcomer Asante Blackk, who plays Richardson and distinguishes between a group of stamps. Blackk is puberty personified, with the face of a ceramic cherub and an incredibly masculine voice, which makes it the best ship for a story about children forced to adulthood by their circumstances.

After the initial arrests, DuVernay focuses on each phase of the experiences of the child who reaches the age of majority in the criminal justice system, and returns to the territory he previously explored in his mbad incarceration documentary. 13 °. Each episode makes it increasingly obvious that if DuVernay could have communicated more using only narrow approaches from the main actors, he would have done so. The structure of four episodes and strict focus on the guys works well for the story, but it often means that the impressive set of pitchers come in and out before they can make a real impression. Blair Underwood and Joshua Jackson, to name two, are presented as part of the male legal team, but they do not have much to chew on, which is probably the best, considering the little impact they ultimately had on their clients. the destinations

That is certainly not the case with Jharrell Jerome, best known for his role in Moonlight, who gets the biggest focus of attention here as Wise, whose bow represents the most cruel twist in a plot full of them. Jerome is the only actor who plays his character as a child and as an adult, and the final film delivery is almost entirely a showcase for his performance. So handsome and well presented as When they see us That is, the nature of the story makes the show know medicine, and one could be forgiven for stopping after the first episode due to absolute emotional exhaustion. But if there was only one episode to watch, it would be the last one, which portrays Wise's horrible journey as the only one of the five children sent to adult prison. Jerome's performance is absolutely impressive and richly detailed, up to his choice to replicate Wise's closed oral posture.

Of course, there is light at the end of the tunnel, most men after the writing of the claim after the real culprit showed up and the DNA tests exonerated Wise, McCray, Richardson, Salaam and Santana, which led to a multi-million dollar agreement. from the city. But man, it's a tunnel hell. When they see us The best of DuVernay: urgent, unbreakable and political. But as same as 13 ° before that, it is a visual disembodiment experience, one that probably benefits from compulsive vision, but that makes it almost impossible.

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