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Review: The Assassination of Gianni Versace [2018]

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace” is the second season of American Crime Story, made by Ryan Murphy, which tells the story of how the famous designer died and of his killer, Andrew Cunanan. It’s definitely darker than the OJ Simpson trial, since it deals with multiple crimes, but I felt it didn’t successfully cover the full story behind the murders. I liked the show and I loved Darren Criss’ performance, but the series was not perfect.

The show starts with its most important moment- the actual shooting of Gianni in front of his house. From then on it goes backwards, by days, months and years, ultimately reaching the killer’s childhood and the disturbing relationship with his dad. This specific timeline jump was weird; I think it distracted the viewer and didn’t have the actual impact required. By the time you reach the early years of growing up, you kind of forget why he killed Lee Miglin in the first place and how exactly he got there. Overall, the trick was interesting, but I wished they did it more chronologically. Still, it delivered its message and it made us understand Andrew much better.

Speaking of Andrew, it’s his show, really, not Gianni’s. I guess they called it “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” just to get more attention, just because people know the name, but ultimately, these 9 (10?) episodes were about Andrew Cunanan and how he killed those people. The interesting part (and a bit frustrating) is that, in the end, I didn’t quite understand why he killed Versace. Where did the obsession actually begin? What triggered the need to meet him and be with him? And after their moment at the opera, was it something else, or was it just that refusal that made him continue to obsess about him? And how does the Miglin killing connect to his? [SPOILER] What I understand is that he was rejected and hurt by the whole Jeffrey-David mess, then went to Miglin for money and decided to kill him. Then the 4th crime was just a way of getting out, but from that moment to Versace, things don’t add up for me. What was the trigger? Was it the fact that he killed before, that he realized he could do it again? [END SPOILER ] Why was he so obsessed with Gianni? The money? Or Fame? Or both? I still don’t get it.

Except the actual motivation of killing Versace, I think the show did a great job of showing us the real Andrew Cunanan. And Darren Criss gave one of the best performances I have ever seen: charismatic, smart, yet troubled and incredibly dangerous when he wanted to. I still remember his reaction to the designer kill in the car: a mix of crying, sobbing, hurrays and adrenaline. Or the scene in the hotel room with the older man from the beach. How he was learning the fake empathy after news of Versace’s death ran on TV. So many creepy, yet solid acting moments. He totally deserved the Golden Globe.

The character, in itself, is fascinating, I could write pages about him. Andrew Cunanan grew up being adored and spoiled by his father, a dodgy Philippines expat who worked as a stockbroker and fooled people for a living. His attitude heavily influenced Andrew, from the cunningness he developed, to his charismatic way of being, but most importantly, to his attractiveness to and easiness around older men. Andrew demanded the attention and love of everyone around him, and when he didn’t get it, it made him angry. He was good to people, although he probably did it just to be loved. He had love to give, but no one loved him enough, i guess. This part of him definitely contributed to the killings of Jeffrey, David and Gianni. Speaking of Jeffrey and David, I loved the two actors portraying them (Finn Wittrock and Cody Fern), they did an amazing job.

In comparison, the Versace storyline line felt like a patchwork. Moments of him being sick (was it really ear cancer or AIDS?), moments of him pushing Donatella to develop herself and be the leader, moments of his relationship with Antonio. Whilst I was watching it, it felt like a sloppy job, but now I realize that maybe the Versace family intervened and specifically made it more mysterious, in order to not ruin his reputation. I wished some aspects were better explained. The idea of him and Antonio bringing home men to party with and fuck was very loosely mentioned, and that would have been interesting to see. The tense relationship between Donatella and Antonio was also briefly explained, and in the end, she came out as the villain. I really felt bad about how the family treated Antonio, he did spend 15 years with Gianni.

I could go on, but this review is already getting long, so I will leave it at that.

In the end, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” is an interesting, creepy TV show with great performances, but unfinished storylines that, once completed, could have made the series close to perfection. Still, I recommend you watch it.

4 thoughts on “Review: The Assassination of Gianni Versace [2018]

  1. I’m with you on this, the structure really brings this series down, which is a shame considering it’s so well acted. I think they did right by having the shooting first to draw us in, but then they should’ve started at the beginning and when chronologically and not backwards. There were times were I thought I was watching the same episode again because the person he just killed showed up again.

  2. I agree, this really showed us the real Cunanan and Darren Criss is excellent in the role but I think the misleading title made me enjoy the series less than I would have if it had a more suiting title.

    1. Agreed. They just did it to attract attention; if they would have used Cunanan’s name it wouldn’t have gotten far

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