Critical Condition: The Handmaid’s Tale (S2)

The Handmaid’s Tale | Lightbox, from Thursday

➢ “The spectre of freedom — how we gain it, and more crucially, how we lose it — looms over Handmaid’s this season, as the writers move beyond the borders of Margaret Atwood’s source material … As a cautionary tale, Handmaid’s is never moralising or hysterical, instead constructing a pervasive mood of dread through quiet, deliberate storytelling. Uncomfortable images linger — the camera watches, unflinchingly, for a full minute as a character performs a bloody act of self-mutilation in the premiere — and some of the most powerful scenes have no dialogue, yet swell with intense emotion: fear, hope, despair, desire.” — Entertainment Weekly.

➢ “After a first season that started strong, then wobbled as it found its own material, it’s become a confident, emotionally rich series — but one that, by nature and obligation, is wrenching to watch … Inevitably, given the feminist anti-Trump protests and #MeToo movement, The Handmaid’s Tale will continue to be seen as an allegory of politics today. But you can also take it as less a specific prediction than as a diagram of how systems of oppression work.” — New York Times.

➢ “In addition to being dark, the first six episodes of the new season are very, very good, something nobody could have taken for granted … The Handmaid’s Tale continues to thrive in many of the same emotional, yet soaringly beautiful, ways it succeeded last year — though several key flaws remain unimproved and are sometimes even exacerbated because everything else around them is so good.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

➢ “It easily accomplishes the second season’s main goal, which was the expansion of the world around June. New storylines and scenarios are gracefully introduced, and those that were barely hinted at in Margaret Atwood’s novel are integrated organically with what came before. If some storylines — or the transitions among them — seem a bit disjointed at times, that almost feels appropriate, given that the lives of most characters have been turned upside down.” — Variety.

➢ “Visuals continue to impress, though the bold primary colours of the show’s aesthetic are now tempered by a new location and new look. Season 2 keeps certain characters alive by transporting us to the Colonies, the brutal wasteland where non-compliant women are sent to serve out their limited lifetimes. While the look is bleak, the series’ directors, who include Mike Barker, Kari Skogland, and more, still manage to find beauty in it.” — IndieWire.

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