Two years ago, Ryan Murphy launched American Crime Story with The People v O.J. Simpson. The standalone season was a bonafide success, winning every award in sight. Season two is titled “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” and it’s got HUGE shoes to fill. But will it match its predecessor? Judging from this opener, the potential is certainly there.
Exploring the murder of famed designer Gianni Versace by serial killer Andrew Cunanan, this season of Crime Story is told in reverse. That means we start with the notorious murder and work our way back to the events leading up to it. As the psychopath at the center of the story, Darren Criss is outstanding. In the pilot episode alone, he conveys a spectrum of emotions and a whole lot of depth. This is certainly his star-making turn and he makes the most of it.
However, the most exciting performer for me isn’t Darren Criss, but Academy Award winner Penelope Cruz. I’ve always adored this actress, and it’s exciting to see her tackle such an eccentric role. Watch a couple of Donatella Versace’s interviews, and notice how Cruz completely assumes the icon’s accent and mannerisms. It’s aboslutely mindblowing! I smell an Emmy!
– How opulent is Versace’s mansion? The cinematography in the teaser is pretty impressive. Too bad money can’t buy taste.
– Did anyone else’s jaw drop when that crazy fan ran up to the crime scene and rubbed Gianni’s photo on the blood splatter (since she didn’t get a signature?). Sick!
– Hilarious but disturbing: Andrew mimics the woman’s gasp as she watches the murder on TV. You can almost see him smiling as well!
– Noteworthy detail: Donatella provides comfort to Gianni’s staff when she arrives at the mansion. Notice how she sympathetically smiles at the butlers and hugs the maid. It’s an interesting detail.
– The birth of the paparazzi: a guy runs to grab his camera, and takes a picture of Gianni’s slain body which he starts to auction for $30,000. Smart.
– In case you were wondering, that is indeed Ricky Martin playing Gianni’s partner Antonio. With the show being set in the 90’s, the homophobia is obviously heightened and there’s a really uncomfortable scene with Antonio trying to explain his relationship with his lover to the police.
– Donatella decides that the company will remain private instead of being publicly listed on The New York Stock Exchange. I have a feeling the board aren’t going to like this one.
Lavishly filmed and intricately brought to life, The Assassination of Gianni Versace is off to a confident start.