Why you should be watching Undone
Mind altering ideas
Rosa Salazar’s expressive performance
Dreamy blend of cynicism, humour and pathos
10/10 Total Rating 9.7/10
Amazon’s profoundly moving drama is packed with grand ideas, big emotions and stunning animation.
From BoJack Horseman writers Kate Purdy and Raphael Bob-Waksberg comes this compelling philosophical series that explores how lineage, inherited trauma, culture and history shape perspectives on reality. Dealing with mental health, relationships, family bonds and faith, Undone mixes the mundanity of everyday life with surreal flourishes and theories on time-travel, all the while grounding itself in human drama and believable characters.
When Alma Winograd-Diaz (Rosa Salazar) goes through a near-death experience during a car accident, she begins to see her dead father, Jacob (Bob Odenkirk). Taken from her at a young age on Halloween, his demise is still a cause of grief and mystery, so she goes on the hunt for clues. Meanwhile, her mother, Camila (Constance Marie), sister Becca (Angelique Cabral) and partner Sam (Siddharth Dhananjay) try to support her through a tough time, as her behaviour gets worryingly unpredictable.
From the moment Salazar appears on screen she is a magnetic presence? who conveys Alma’s cynicism and stubbornness with an appealingly dry wit. At first, Alma is stuck in a funk, but when the doors of perception are opened after her accident, Salazar injects the character with an infectious humour, manic energy and exuberant passion.
Director Hisko Hulsing merges painstakingly detailed rotoscope animation with vibrant oil paintings to create an immersive experience. As Alma’s childhood memories bleed into the present and her mind wanders and skips through whole days, years and lifetimes, the animation mirrors her mindset with a palpable intensity.
Alma’s mix of Mexican and American ethnicity plays a major part in the story – as she discovers more about her culture, her mind keeps unlocking new possibilities for the future and presenting devastating truths about the past. So too does her perspective as a deaf woman whose reality literally shifted when her parents decided she should have a cochlear implant. In one of the show’s most moving moments, it draws parallels between the way Alma and her Indian boyfriend learn to tackle language as a way to fit in, but are in fact actually attracted to one another because they are outsiders.
Undone dwells in such painful moments, the times when people lose faith and attempt to overcome obstacles, prodding and poking around to reveal the impact of the choices people make and the decisions that are out of their hands. To say it is profoundly moving would be an understatement; it is a provocative and delicately assembled puzzle that plays out as a blend of intriguing whodunnit and an amalgam of Richard Linklater’s Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, while still managing to do its own thing.
Each of the eight episodes clock in at under 25 minutes, which is impressive, considering the multitude of grand ideas and emotions it unleashes and the way it breathes life into its complex and curious characters as they unlock the mysterious universes inside themselves.