Arts & Entertainment

‘Russian Doll’ traps audiences in an wonderfully complex plot

At least once in someone’s life, they experience a phenomenon called déjà vu — the feeling of having al­ready had an experience at least once before while it is currently occuring. But what if the reason it felt that way was because it actually already hap­pened? The Netflix Original show “Russian Doll” gives audiences a look into this exact scenario in a story with a rocky start that takes off into one that is pleasantly complex.

“Russian Doll” tells a story similar to Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day” and the recent 2017 film “Happy Death Day,” as it follows Nadia Vul­vokov (Natasha Lyonne) on the night of a birthday party that never ends. After finding that her night has re­started after an unexpected death, she must recruit the help of her friend Maxine (Greta Lee) and her ex-boy­friend John (Yul Vazquez) to find out how to break the cycle.

The show is advertised as a dram­edy, which at first is hard to deter­mine. During the first episode, the humor can be seen as crass and un­necessarily vulgar, and could easily turn a viewer away from the show. However, progressing onto the next episode, it begins to improve as the tones in the dialogue are less exag­gerated and the dialogue itself is less focused on trying to be overtly raun­chy. The second episode also serves as the introduction to the drama partially advertised as Nadia begins to struggle with the cycle she has re­luctantly and inadvertently found herself in.

Once again, the first episode can be a deterrent in the sense that it can be too much of a reminder of “Hap­py Death Day.” However, upon view­ing the second and third episodes alone, it is easy to see that the prem­ise is incredibly different as there appear to be many moving parts and clues to discover in the series. As it continues, the story develops to re­veal the true personalities of the char­acters on the screen.

Netflix Originals have the ten­dency to display incredible cinema­tography — a combination of stellar lighting techniques as well as camera angles that serve to enhance the sto­rytelling — and “Russian Doll” does no different. The series, while start­ing off rough, continuously improves upon itself by using the composure of each shot to its advantage. Wheth­er it be placing a vital aspect between two characters or using light red lighting to convey a more serious mo­ment, the show clearly displays mas­tery of this skill.

With its undeniably beautiful cam­era work and a story that slowly pulls audiences into its realm, “Russian Doll” is a triumph of a show, if not for a slightly weak start to an otherwise wonderfully twisting narrative.