UNBELIEVABLE REVIEW. Creators: Susannah Grant, Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman, with Kaitlyn Dever, Toni Collette, Merritt Wever. On Netflix.


Unbelievable is the true story of Marie, a teenager who was charged with lying about having been raped, and the two female detectives who followed a twisting path to arrive at the truth.

In today’s climate we are all too familiar with the challenges a rape survivor faces; the worst being that she is often not believed. So, this dramatization of an American serial rapist’s ability to learn from each rape and move on to the next because his first victim was coerced by a male detective into admitting her rape and assault never happened, is shocking.

It takes two female detectives and their sensitivity to two more victims, as well as their coincidental crossing of paths to bring the perpetrator to book. It is harrowing stuff.

What makes this series absolutely absorbing is the strength of the performances by the three female leads, and then the supporting cast. Kaitlyn Dever plays Marie, a survivor of the foster home system; already fragile, broken and alienated. When she, after countless retellings of her rape, is manipulated into saying it didn’t happen, she is victimised by her supposed network of support, the authorities, her foster families, and her few remaining friends.

Flawless, intense, shattering

She is isolated, fired, abandoned and ignored. I first came across Kaitlyn playing a young child criminal in Justified, and she was brilliant. Here, in Unbelievable, her performance is flawless. Her depth of emotion, her lack of sentimentality, her physicality is so intense it is shattering.

She is flanked by the brilliant performances of Toni Collette and Merritt Wever as detectives Grace Rasmussen and Karen Duval. Merritt Wever plays the soft spoken, god fearing, devoted, workaholic detective with sensitivity and passion. I love her work. And Toni Collette’s portrayal of brittle, obsessed, and controlling Grace Rasmussen is perfect.

The support cast all do their bit to make this grueling, gruesome and tragic true story live. There is redemption in the end, but it is hard earned. And, of course, what makes it most shattering, it that it is all true. I don’t usually enjoy series or movies that dramatize real events but this is an exception because it is so well executed.

What: Unbelievable on Netflix