Oscar-winning director Barry Jenkins’ next project is Amazon Prime Video The subway. Based on Colson Whitehead’s 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel starring Tasso Mbedu, Chase W. Dylan, Joel Edgerton and Aaron Pierre, all 10 episodes of the show will be released on May 14.
What are you talking about?
Set in an alternate historical schedule, the series follows Cora (Tasso Mbedu), a teenager born and enslaved on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Her mother, Mabel, abandoned her years ago and was never caught. No one else on the plantation is so lucky. The master, Terrance, is cruel and routinely orders slaves to be beaten, tortured and hanged for their disobedience. Slaves try to find joy where they can, such as collecting small birthdays, although none of them know when they were born or how old they are, but they know deep down that there is no permanent withdrawal from work or from torture.
Convinced by her friend Caesar one night, Cora and he flee to the legendary subway – a hidden system of tracks and tunnels, conductors and engineers working beneath the surface. (This is a more literal interpretation of the subway, which was actually a network of activists and safe houses.) Cora and Caesar head to South Carolina, a more liberal state, where they are given new identities, jobs, and a small measure of happiness. .
However, they soon discover that they are being chased by the expert bounty hunter Ridgeway (Joel Edgerton). Mabel was the only slave Ridgeway could ever catch, which explains his fixation with Cora. Now she has to risk traveling from state to state, through the subway, again to avoid it. Although the journey is highly organized, the need for absolute secrecy means that slaves do not know what condition they will find themselves in and can be far worse than what they are in.
Why you need to know the work of Barry Jenkins
The subway is director Barry Jenkins’ first foray into television. He has previously directed three functions – A cure for melancholy (2008), the Oscar-winning Moonlight (2016) and the follow-up If Bill Street could talk (2018) – and won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay with Moonlight. His work filters Black’s problems through an empathetic gaze. Moonlight affects the destructive effects of drugs in black communities, but as a means of telling a touching story about the coming of age of a young boy discovering his sexuality. IN If Bill Street could talk, a young black man is falsely accused of rape and has to fight to prove his innocence, but the love story between him and his fiancé gives him the heart of the film.
What do critics say about the show?
The show currently has a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating, with reviews from 18 critics. Dan Fienberg of the Hollywood Reporter called it “a challenging, overeating interaction of individual incidents, an unpleasant look that requires complete immersion, denied emotional gain, and unexpected catharsis.” Katie Roseinsky of the London Evening Standard described it as “a stunning achievement that for many directors would be their defining job”.
Recommendation in collaboration with Amazon Prime Video