Behind 21st Century Fox’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace is a dark tale of tragedy and psychotic violence.
Andrew Cunanan was a serial killer who, after beating a former US Naval Officer to death with a claw hammer, and stabbing victim Lee Miglin 20 times with a screwdriver, shot Gianni Versace on the doorstep of his Miami beach mansion.
The show first aired on the last day of February on BBC Two, and is the second in the series following on from The People Vs OJ Simpson.
American Crime Story is a hypnotic watch, depicting real life crimes in the airbrushed universe of American TV.
It sounds like an ideal combination, and it almost is, watching superstars including Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace, on the small screen in sets dripping with expense.
However problems lie within American Crime Story. One of them being that, in approaching stories that are incredibly sensitive to certain people (impending lawsuits and all the rest of it) the show is almost tied having to play it incredibly straightforward in nature.
By the end of OJ it felt like the veneer of drama was starting to fade away. Replaced by a systemic approach to bullet pointing all the facts, safely tying all the loose ends, and then the viewer starts resentfully realising he/she has just spent ten hours of their life watching a ‘did he/didn’t he’ murder mystery in which everyone knows the conclusion.
This shouldn’t deter the viewer. The show still nestles exceptionally the essence of its entertainment- the common person’s fascination with murder. And there’s not so much ‘did he/didn’t he’ in Versace’s murder. We watch Cunanan kill him in the opening scene.
It’s also worth watching for the performances of Darren Criss (Cunanan) and Ricky Martin (Versace’s forsaken lover Antonio D’Amico). Martin is a powerful performer if a little hammy. While Criss plays the disturbed Cunanan with an emotionally naive, child-like demeanour that is inclemently spine chilling.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace runs for ten weeks on BBC Two, Wednesdays, 9pm.