Primetime

Alias Grace

Mary Harron

Alias grace 01

A layered historical drama based on of Margaret Atwood’s Giller Prize–winning novel about a poor Irish servant accused and convicted of murder, from screenwriter Sarah Polley and director Mary Harron.

The press conference for Alias Grace takes place on Tuesday, September 12 at 4pm.

One could hardly find a television series with deeper Canadian roots than this adaptation of Margaret Atwood's Giller Prize–winning 1996 novel Alias Grace, handsomely mounted by director Mary Harron and elegantly scripted by Sarah Polley. Atwood originally discovered the "true" story of teenaged servant Grace Marks — a kind of Canadian Lizzie Borden — through the work of 19th-century writer Susanna Moodie. Marks allegedly killed her wealthy employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery, in Upper Canada in 1843. Years later, as the adult Grace relates her story to an increasingly appalled and distracted doctor brought in to assess her sanity, it becomes clear there's far more at work here than widely assumed.

Alias Grace is packed with references to the beliefs and prejudices of the period, from Victorian spiritualism to anti-immigrant bigotry. (Grace fled Ireland for Canada at a time when the Irish were treated as pariahs in the Empire and elsewhere.) Even more central is the film's exploration of the grievously limited options presented to women — especially working-class women. This subject matter feels particularly timely in 2017, as xenophobia spikes and women's choices are increasingly circumscribed by authoritarian policies.

Harron and Polley's adaptation is harnessed by a stellar cast including Anna Paquin, Edward Holcroft, and lead Sarah Gadon, whose Grace is simultaneously pitiable, courageous, principled, inscrutable, and deranged. It's a performance unlikely to be rivalled this year in complexity and skill.

STEVE GRAVESTOCK

location_on Scotiabank 11

theaters Press

location_on Winter Garden Theatre

stars Premium