Elisabeth Moss dazzles in a mind-blowing mystery

Ssexy girls, a new Apple TV+ show based on the novel by Lauren Beukes, is a deliberately slippery, complex, and enigmatic show that refuses to give its audience easy answers. To like Breakupit proves that Apple’s original content compels other platforms to up their game. It’s weird and fabulous.

For reasons that will become clear, it is difficult to describe how and when the story of shiny girls begin. The main character is Kirby Mazrachi (Elisabeth Moss), archivist at the newspaper Chicago Sun-Times who was attacked by a mysterious man named Harper (Jamie Bell). Through his collaboration with suspicious reporter Dan Velazquez, who has had his fair share of drinking problems, Kirby piece together the connections between his attack and the murders of various women. The catch is that the murders didn’t happen in the last five or ten years, they date back nearly a century. And yet, they seem to have been committed by the same person…

Moving from Harper’s point of view to that of the Kirby-Dan duo, shiny girls is a deeply, perhaps recklessly ambitious drama. Not content with being a thriller about solving the murder of a few dead women, it adds a concept that will surprise anyone unfamiliar with the source material: the idea that Harper is somehow able to control or travel through time, becoming an almost omnipotent character. . In a novel, there would be ample space to explore and explain the various causes and effects involved in this clumsy premise. Unfortunately, in the television adaptation, there is no narrator to guide you. Some viewers will find this frustrating and may not be convinced by the few attempts to explain the physics involved, but there’s so much more to enjoy here than the plot’s inner workings.

Moss, for example, is sublime as a traumatized character trying to make sense of his post-attack world. Some of the show’s nicest touches involve subtle changes to aspects of a scene (Kirby’s hair length, for example, will change mid-conversation), and we try to make sense of things as we go. as they occur almost as much as her. Never knowing who she is or where she is, Kirby is a broken woman in search of answers. Moss makes him a complex character, initially shy but becoming more fearsome as the series develops.

There’s great writing: “When you write about the dead, you write with water,” Dan says, urging Kirby to tell her story because she, unlike murdered women, is very much alive. And with Bell also incredibly awful, there’s a commendable amount of terrific work on display. It’s understandable why its detractors will complain about it – it’s a little opaque, and maybe it doesn’t stick on landing – but its mystery is a big part of its charm, and you’ll be gripped until the very last minute, anxious to see how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.

“Shining Girls” is now streaming on Apple TV+

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