Andrea’s film review – Russian Doll

Russian Doll ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

A cynical young woman in New York City keeps dying and returning to the party that’s being thrown in her honor on that same evening. She tries to find a way out of this strange time loop. Available to watch on Netflix.

The first season of Russian Doll came out of nowhere back in 2019 (Only three years ago, but as anything before Covid, it feels like a long time ago). As it happened, it turned out to be one of the best series released on Netflix.

What started off as a Groundhog-Day-stuck-in-a-time-loop story, soon evolved into something which really transcended the whole premise, moving from comedy to a deep emotional journey through mental illness, trauma, life and death.

At the centre of all that, Natasha Lyonne as Nadia is a true force of nature. Her powerful multi-layered performance, just like a Russian doll, hilarious and sad, strong and broken is brilliant to say the least.

It was a tightly-scripted perfect season, an intriguing puzzle, full of unexpected twists and turns. Nominated for 13 Emmy awards and directed entirely by women, the series constantly played with the audience’s expectations and just when we thought we had a grip on it, it introduced us to a brand new main character after a few episodes, pulling the rug under our feet and hooking us to the screen like only the best TV can do.

When Season 2 was announced many wondered how could they possibly top that?

Wisely they decided to follow a completely different direction and yet they still managed to maintain that same vibe, mood and capture that irreverence that made the first season unique.

Just like in season one, the least you know about it, the better, but I’ll just say that it’s still about “playing with time” except that now it’s all about “time travel” and about searching the past in order to fix the future.

This feels a much more complex, deeper, weirder (yes, even weirder) story. It is also possibly a little bit too convoluted in its construction and consequently it feels like bumpier ride and it’s not as fun to watch as the first time around.

It’s a very audacious series which at times suffers from the weight of its own ambition. Some of the metaphors are a bit too much in-your-face and the two main storylines this time don’t gel as fluidly as they used to, but there are plenty of good moments throughout and when the ending comes it’s just as rewarding and its final message is undeniably powerful.

The first season of Russian Doll came out of nowhere back in 2019 (Only three years ago, but as anything before Covid, it feels like a long time ago). As it happened, it turned out to be one of the best series released on Netflix.

What started off as a Groundhog-Day-stuck-in-a-time-loop story, soon evolved into something which really transcended the whole premise, moving from comedy to a deep emotional journey through mental illness, trauma, life and death.

At the centre of all that, Natasha Lyonne as Nadia is a true force of nature. Her powerful multi-layered performance, just like a Russian doll, hilarious and sad, strong and broken is brilliant to say the least.

It was a tightly-scripted perfect season, an intriguing puzzle, full of unexpected twists and turns. Nominated for 13 Emmy awards and directed entirely by women, the series constantly played with the audience’s expectations and just when we thought we had a grip on it, it introduced us to a brand new main character after a few episodes, pulling the rug under our feet and hooking us to the screen like only the best TV can do.

When Season 2 was announced many wondered how could they possibly top that?

Wisely they decided to follow a completely different direction and yet they still managed to maintain that same vibe, mood and capture that irreverence that made the first season unique.

Just like in season one, the least you know about it, the better, but I’ll just say that it’s still about “playing with time” except that now it’s all about “time travel” and about searching the past in order to fix the future.

This feels a much more complex, deeper, weirder (yes, even weirder) story. It is also possibly a little bit too convoluted in its construction and consequently it feels like bumpier ride and it’s not as fun to watch as the first time around.

It’s a very audacious series which at times suffers from the weight of its own ambition. Some of the metaphors are a bit too much in-your-face and the two main storylines this time don’t gel as fluidly as they used to, but there are plenty of good moments throughout and when the ending comes it’s just as rewarding and its final message is undeniably powerful.

Season 1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Season 2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick

Russian Doll is available to watch on Netflix.

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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