Tuesday, May 3, 2022

REVIEW: 'Shining Girls' - Kirby Questions the Details of Her Life When a Killer Strikes Once More in 'Cutline'

AppleTV+'s Shining Girls - Episode 1.01 "Cutline"

Kirby Mazrachi suspects her attacker from years earlier may be responsible for a recent murder, but she's challenged by her shifting reality.

"Cutline" was written by Silka Luisa and directed by Michelle MacLaren

Kirby can't trust any detail in her life. She was assaulted six years ago. Since then, life has been complete chaos. She doesn't have some great opportunity in Orlando worth pursuing. She only has a cousin with a couch. She believes that kind of change is necessary in the pursuit of moving on with her life. Her mother argues against it. She knows Kirby will be the exact same person in Orlando as she is in Chicago. She doesn't even know the half of what Kirby endures on a daily basis. Rachel can sympathize when her daughter expresses her struggles. She is similarly in the dark about the scope of this trauma. It's all-consuming. Kirby has to write down the details of her life so she won't forget. And yet, things can change in an instant. All it takes is her looking away for a moment for a new person altogether to suddenly appear. Her circumstances change and she can't cope. She provides her consent in some instances. She quickly unravels the moment life reveals itself as something new. It's a perilous way to live. It's one where Kirby doesn't feel inspired to do anything but keep her head down and lose herself to the soundtrack she plays. That escapism works only for a few brief moments. She can't escape personal interactions. Those are part of her life. She has to do this job. It's nothing glamorous. She isn't exactly treated with respect at work. Her job does hold consequence. And yet, she isn't so special and unique that her presence in this world is necessary. It's absolutely dark and bleak. It creates a reality in which Kirby doesn't see herself belonging. Instead, it's all about slipping back and forth within different realities. She can't keep them straight. That means she only looks crazy to those perpetually confused by her. She is told her attacker has struck again. The police suspect that. The medical examiner could confirm it. That still requires Kirby to be vulnerable and giving of herself. This aspect of life has defined so much for her. She is tentative about it. She doesn't want it to carry so much priority. And yet, it does exactly that. It brings her to Dan. He too is intrigued by this case. He too is desperate to prove his relevance in this ever-changing world. They see a much bigger story that suggests something much more sinister and depraved going on. Right now, it's only a suspicion. The show may confirm it with some of the details given away in this premiere. Kirby can't trust anything. Her entire identity is a complete mystery. One moment she has a cat. Then, it's a dog. Sometimes she lives with her mother. And then, she has a husband. It's chaos that only invites her in as an unreliable narrator.

Kirby's story points out these strange details. Objects shift. Things appear out of place. One man seems positioned as knowing more about what's going on exactly. And yet, he is also the terrorizing threat who plagues various women. People believe a connection must exist between Kirby and Julia. They were attacked by the same man. That may be it though. They are the victims who were assaulted in the same way. It defines so much for Kirby. Meanwhile, Julia was killed. She is simply a detail of the killer's story. She is one of his grand accomplishments. He moves on to terrorize the next threat. Kirby can only recognize his voice. Anyone could be a threat. And so, everything around her could endanger her in some way. And then, Harper presents himself out of place in time. That position stages him as unique just like Kirby. She is experiencing different events with different people and objects. Meanwhile, Harper looks the same whether he's in the 1960s or three decades later. He is convinced that people recognize him and the infamy he wields. Everyone is completely in the dark about his true presence. He lurks over Jinny at the observatory. She just wants to devote her time to her research. She is continually inspired by her work. She is amazed by the mysteries of the universe. She looks up and sees the grand expanse of the solar system. She is in awe of all of it. Harper believes he can pick up a connection with her. It still ends in death. That brutality affirms the lethal stakes of this story. It's not going to stop because some people are starting to become aware of the sinister nature. Instead, it may only amplify and worsen. Kirby is continually looking over her shoulder. Dan is newly involved. He forms a connection with Kirby right away. And yet, he can't possibly relate to her experience of the world. He is one of the many shifting objects. He sees certain facts as true regardless of how life changes for Kirby. That's impersonal in so many ways. The twist of Kirby having a husband plays differently. It's all meant to be confusing. It's a dark worldview meant to confuse the audience. It's successful in that regard. It remains uniform in tone. It could aspire for more complexity though. Right now, it's solely mystery for the sake of being mysterious. It may hold greater resonance when the audience understands the logic of this world. Until then, it's simply meant to confuse the people watching.