Big Gay Binge | Darren Criss is a fashion killer in ACS: Versace

The cold blooded murder of fashion demigod, Gianni Versace was a scandal that rocked a decade. When rent boy/serial killer Andrew Cunanan gunned down Versace on the front steps of his Miami mansion he not only took a life, he nearly toppled an empire.

Season one of American Crime Story tackled another equally salacious scandal about the trial of OJ Simpson and season two retains the gritty tone but it’s presented in a much glossier package. The sets, cinematography and costumes are all stunning to look at; anything less would have been a disservice to Versace’s memory.

This season is less about the man who learned his craft at his seamstress mother’s side to become a fashion icon that it is an exploration of the twisted psyche of a sexually aggressive pathological liar. Cunanan is played by Glee’s Darren Criss who knocks it out of the park with a portrayal of a young man so steeped in denial and self-loathing that is surely set to garner him many accolades come awards season.

Much internet chatter has surrounded the level of truth in this series. The Versace family has denounced it as a work of pure fiction. What is for certain is that Cunanan was a deeply disturbed individual who had an at best casual relationship with the truth teamed with an unslakable thirst to be loved. His slide into addiction details his back story of an implied abusive relationship with his father that explains his serious next level daddy issues.

It wouldn’t be a fashion based story without a few heavy hitting celebrity names riding the casting couch; in a case of incredibly kind casting, the beautiful Penelope Cruz takes up the role of the once pretty but now tragic victim of bad plastic surgery Donatella Versace. The “openly Latino” pop star Ricky Martin plays Versace’s long-time companion who displays a not before seen emotional range proving he’s not just a pretty package with a microphone. Judith Light (Ugly Betty, Transparent) lends some gravitas playing the elegant wife of one of Cunanan’s wealthy married suitors.

Whether or not this instalment of the American Crime Story stays faithful to the facts it nevertheless provides a fascinating voyeuristic look into the depths of the superficial world of fashion and the notions of truth, beauty and desire that propel that world. The performances are uniformly excellent and the story of internalised homophobia gone viral makes for an excellent binge worthy candidate to while away a lost rainy weekend.

American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace is streaming on Foxtel Now.

Clinton Little

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