American Crime Story

By Steven Pryor

Courtesy: FX

TV Series Review:

The Assassination of Gianni Versace-American Crime Story

When: Wednesdays at 10PM on FX

Starring: Edgar Ramirez, Darren Criss, Ricky Martin and Penelope Cruz

Created by: Ryan Murphy (Based on the novel “Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace and the Largest Failed Manhunt in US History” by Maureen Orth)

Rated TV-MA

My Rating: *****/5

 

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace” is the second incarnation of the FX anthology series “American Crime Story.” Following off the success of “The People V. OJ Simpson,” this series portrays a dark, but fascinating version of one of the most infamous crimes in American history.

 

The series opens in 1997, with Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss) firing the fateful shot that killed fashion designer Gianni Versace (Edgar Ramirez). From that point, the series shows how the two got to this moment in a nonlinear fashion that echoes films such as “Memento” and “Pulp Fiction.” The result is a crime drama that rivals many theatrical films in terms of writing, acting and production values.

 

In addition to the leads, the series is bolstered by a strong supporting cast. Penelope Cruz stars as Donatella Versace, and Ricky Martin stars in a surprisingly deft performance as Antonio D’Amico. Mirroring the success Ryan Murphy brought to “The People V. OJ Simpson,” there is a compelling portrait of the events and individuals in the series’ run.

 

The production design also sports details that help give the period settings a visual flair that enhances the story and the people within. Some of the music cues that back Cunanan’s crimes include “Gloria” by Laura Branagan and Phil Collins’ “Easy Lover.” One episode also has a major clue revolving around the Lexus car phone of real estate magnate Lee Meglin (Mike Farrell).

 

One thing to know before watching this series: it is not for the faint of heart. Much like the first incarnation of “American Crime Story,” the details of this case are displayed in very graphic detail. Still, the series gives a compelling rendition of one of the most infamous crimes in modern history.

 

Overall, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” is another strong addition to Ryan Murphy’s credits on FX. With future series in the wings centered around Hurricane Katrina and the Monica Lewinsky scandal, let’s hope the same level of quality can be brought to the table as it has been here.

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