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on June 1, 2018
There certainly seems to be a lot of hate for this miniseries but I thought it was very well done. Neither having read the book upon which it is based, nor watched the 1970's Peter Weir film, I was aware that this was the story of teenage girls at a "posh" school in the Australian Outback and the titular picnic at Hanging Rock, from which they mysteriously vanish. Going into it with relatively little information other than that, I have to say that I found it intriguing enough to binge-watch episodes 3-6, and really don't see it as deserving of all the hate it is getting.

The always-enjoyable Natalie Dormer stars as the sinister Mrs. Appleyard, a transplanted Londoner who has opened the girl's school bearing her name in the middle of nowhere. Mrs. Appleyard has many secrets and a past that may not quite be proper and pristine; certainly, it doesn't pay to cross the lady. Mrs. Appleyard is assisted at the school by a hatchet crew of volatile instructors, one of whom, highly-strung and hyper-religious Miss Lumley seems to particularly relish dishing out corporal punishment to unruly girls. As Miss Lumley, Yael Stone gives a terrifying performance as a woman consumed by her faith, yet ingratiating in her willingness to tattle on her co-workers for their perceived misdeeds. Miss Lumley functions as Mrs. Appleyard's henchwoman, and her devotion to the headmistress is almost as strong as her devotion to God. The other three instructors, Mlle. de Poitiers (Lola Bessis), Miss McCraw (Anna McGahan) and Mrs. Delange (Sibylla Budd), have their qualms about the strict discipline at the school but they all do what Mrs. Appleyard demands--up to a point. Eventually, each has her "aha" moment. The core group of girls consists of headstrong, free-spirited Miranda (Lily Sullivan), the group's reluctant leader; snooty and insecure heiress, Irma (Samara Weaving) who believes she's going to marry the very-wealthy boy next door; beautiful, aboriginal Marion (Madeleine Madden), nursing a secret and forbidden crush; whiny and petulant Edith (Ruby Rees); and young and resistant toughie, Sara (Inez Curro) who idolizes Miranda. On a picnic outing with the rest of the students, Miranda, Irma, Marion and Edith decide to explore the forbidding Hanging Rock, the subject of unsavory and unsettling legends. Most of this group, along with Miss McCraw, seems to vanish from the cliffs into thin air, and despite their best attempts, searchers come up empty-handed. As established in the story, each girl had her reasons for wanting to disappear, but the local lawmen doubt that they went willingly. Was it a supernatural occurrence or the dastardly act of an all-too-human perpetrator? The inspector in charge of the case thinks it's the latter though the further he digs into the mystery, the more obtuse it becomes. In the meantime, his prime suspect, Irma's boy next door, Mike (Harrison Gilbertson), has a surprise or two up his own sleeve.

Everyone in the large cast does a fine job with his/her assigned character. I thought Inez Curro, as Sarah, was particularly touching and, in light of her character's arc, very sympathetic, indeed. Natalie Dormer is appropriately witchy as Mrs. Appleyard; she reminded me a little of Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers in Hitchcock's classic "Rebecca". With her head held high and a deadly calm demeanor, she issues orders and demands subservience from her staff and the students, even as she endures the veiled insults of the area's wealthy residents, who doubt the backstory she's woven for them. In supporting roles, Nicholas Hope and Roslyn Gentle are effective as Mike's snobby relatives, and James Hoare, as their hired man, is also excellent. Ditto for Don Hany and Jonny Pazlovsky as, respectively, Appleyard's potential suitor and the sergeant in charge of the case.

Directors Michael Rymer, Larysa Kondracki and Amanda Brotchie do a fine job, and the hallucinatory photography is outstanding. I would have given this five stars were it not for the fact that it seems to be missing a few scenes that would go a long way towards explaining a few things without giving away the central mystery. I'm not sure if the these scenes were intentionally omittted or if they were cut in the editing room but I feel that it was a big mistake not to have included them in the finished product. I also felt the ending seemed rushed and underwhelming; it felt like the series was unfinished. All in all, I really enjoyed this creepy mystery from down under and am glad I watched it.
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on June 2, 2018
Very enjoyable if you like an eclectic slow burn sort of series. Very funky, very weird and quite interesting. Reminds me a bit of Caryl Churchill's Dream Play
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on June 21, 2018
This series has to be watched with the mindset of watching an indie film. It's slow but beautiful and intriguing. I love when time isn't linear and keeps you on your toes. I also love the subtle differences of all the girls and how they cope with being in a rigid boarding school during their adolescence in regard to forming relationships and figuring out who they are.
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on May 25, 2018
Wanted to like this despite all the bad reviews, but only made it through two episodes before I decided life it too short to waste on this. It's very interesting in bits and spots, but overall everyone is creepy and weird and hiding something. And how many scenes can you watch in semi-slow motion while someone looks around and ominous birds flap and fly away? I gave it two stars for Natalie Dormer & Don Hany - she has been excellent in everything she's ever been in, and I've loved him in Strike Back and Heartbeat.

If you're interested in the story, recommend the Peter Weir film or read the book instead of watching this. I'm a huge fan of Amazon Prime Originals, and they have produced some of the best series out today. But sorry, Amazon, this one is a swing and a miss.
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on June 3, 2018
I thought this first episode was amazing. I am looking forward to watching the rest for sure. I love the music sound track. Really intersting and original and dynamic. I didnt know this was based on books or what the history is, so I am only writing based off a blank slate. Although I am aware of the white washing of history and am sadened to read some people feel this is what this series does. This review is based purely off the the first glance by someone that doesnt know the history of this story.
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on May 25, 2018
I think Natalie Dormer an excellent actress & quite frankly carries this mini-series. I really enjoy period pieces, the costumes were great & scenery was certainly beautiful, but the script lacked clear & cohesive vision. Also the young/old actors just don't seem to mesh well with each other. Sometimes conversations that are expected to be animated sound stilted instead. Too bad because I was really looking forward to this show. Still give it a go, because you may adore it, or not.
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on May 25, 2018
Really wanted to love this, but I lost interest after the 4th episode. I am a period piece fanatic, but not so much that I can't enjoy some additional creativity and contemporary flair. I lost interest in the main characters early on except for Natalie Dormer's, Mrs. Appleyard which was the only really memorable one. But she just wasn't enough to hold the whole movie intact. The storyline also started to grow more convoluted as it progressed and I think there was supposed to be an element of mysterious indigenous superstition though it played off more like the girls were high on peyote.
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on May 26, 2018
Well, I've watched episode one and I'm intrigued enough by the summaries of other episodes to continue. I am trying not to compare it to Peter Weir's film, although he is a favorite director of mine and his 1975 film leaves so much unsaid. Do I want the mystery solved? I'm not sure yet. It reminds me of Weir's The Last Wave with its supernatural undertones. I am also reminded of Deborah Kerr's The Innocents - a suspenseful "am I going mad?" version of A Turn of the Screw.. If you haven't seen these, give them both a try.

Finished the series. I was not impressed enough to change my rating. I really expected much more for my 3+ hours of time. Given so much extra time to extrapolate the story, it was really quite unimaginative. As soon as Miranda told Sarah the story of the wild horse that jumped into a ravine, I knew what the end would be. Sad. Such potential. That's 3 hours I can't get back.
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on June 24, 2018
First, I love anything set in Australia. Seconde, I wish I had read the bad reviews before wasting my time on this 6 part series. Third, having not read the original book, I can’t say to what extent the Amazon reduction was trueto the book or was distorted. Having read reviews of the book, though,it’s unlikely that the original novel was, like the trendy series, focused on homosexuality as a preference, with the only Christian character being a sadomasochistic fanatic. Finally, the portrayal of the girls ias contiually repressed, sad, frustrated and damaged. Like many TV plots today, there is no joy, inspiration or actual insight (except, of course,that the headmistress was only as cruel as she was because of her tragically abusive childhood . . . Blah, blah, blah. Yes, it is visually stunning and looks like they probably had a lot of fun making it - far more than we viewers.
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on June 24, 2018
The overly bad reviews here make little sense to me. Does the show take some risks in areas, trying to be different, and do some of those risks work better than others? Yes. Does it come close to ruining things? No. If you believe the author, the story is based on their personal dreams, and like any dream not everything is always going to make sense. Part of the directorial goals are to create a mood of confusion and uncomfortableness as well, so you need to know that going in.

One also needs to remember this is based on a 1975 film (and book) Picnic at Hanging Rock, and it is trying to stay a bit true to those source materials. The series does have some erotic elements that I don't think needed to be there, but that was also part of the previous film. It's part of "keeping you guessing" as to what happened to the missing girls, where you don't know if it is murder, rape, jilted lovers, supernatural happenings, aboriginal ceremonies, or twists in time. If Fox and Scully were in Australia in 1900 this would feel like an X-files episode, and for those looking for a straight period piece they are going to have to adjust to that. There is a mansion and elaborate costumes, but this is not Downton Abbey.

If you don't like non-linear story telling, or want an ending that explains everything, you likely won't care for this. And despite the show pretending like it was based on true events, the only thing truly real about the story is Australia's mysterious Hanging Rock itself. I won't feel the need to ever watch this again, but I give it props for trying and succeeding at setting a mood and being something different.
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