The Alienist is a recently-aired TV series on Netflix, and a superb one at that. Set during the nineteenth century, the story revolves around John Moore, a newspaper illustrator, and his friend Laszlo Kreizler, a criminal psychologist, or ‘alienist’, as they investigate a string of horrific child murders. Be aware that at times, these murder scenes can be incredibly graphic, but it is the transgression of such severe child mutilation that invests the audience in the killer’s capture.
Both actors, Luke Evans as John Moore and Daniel Brühl as Dr Laszlo Kreizler, delivered incredible performances and underpinned their roles with a subtlety and nuance that is rarely found in the industry. The character progression was clear and as their distinct vulnerabilities evolved into their strengths it became satisfying. However, the third protagonist was equally as brilliant but perhaps played a more subtly significant role. Dakota Fanning as Sara Howard was a stunning portrayal of an intelligent and skilful woman denied a dominant presence in her workplace. As the first woman to work in the New York police department, Fanning delivers the frustration of working amongst the rampant sexism and homophobia and branches of racism like anti-Semitism that still occurs even today.
With two crime analyst brothers, Douglas Smith and Matthew Shear, the five attempt to decode the clues and the bodies left behind amidst the corruption of the higher classes and the wealthy. Witty but melancholy, the series shifts skilfully between intrigue and conspiracy. It’s easy to get lost amongst Netflix’s constant influx of dramas, but The Alienist succeeds in not only seizing an audience’s attention but in keeping it until the very last second.