This first season of American Crime Story was one of the best seasons of television but it had the story of O.J. Simpson to fall back on. Will this new season, based on the murder of famed, albeit lesser known, fashion designer Gianni Versace be as successful?
Synopsis: The murder of Gianni Versace turns the eyes of the world onto Miami Beach. (IMDB)
Writer: Tom Rob Smith
Director: Ryan Murphy
Running Time: 42mins
The show is called American Crime Story so why not start with the crime? This episode starts on the day in question, the morning of July 15th, 1997, where famed fashion designer Gianni Versace (Edgar Ramirez) is murdered on the front steps of his Miami villa by a serial killer and closeted gay man named Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss). We see the moments leading up to the event set to some orchestral music. This is used to contrast their much different lifestyles with Versace living a life of luxury and Cunanan living with only his backpack on the beach. As Versace returns home from a newstand, Cunanan confronted him and shot him twice.
Instead of seeing the aftermath, we are get flashback that begins the story of how the two men met. Cunanan met Versace at a San Francisco gay bar in November 1990 and was then invited by Versace to the opera where he was designing the costumes. He was a pathological liar with delusions of grandeur so he saw Versace as means to become more than what he was. The two seemed to hit it off but that was the end of that for now as we were then brought back to the present.
Versace’s boyfriend Antonio D’Amico (Ricky Martin) tended to him while another chased Cunanan all while a crowd watched from across the street. Once he got inside his truck, we saw that Cunanan was still conflicted with what he just did. Versace was sent to the hospital while the police continued to chase Cunanan. Versace was quickly pronounced dead while Cunanan managed to get away. The opera music playing during all of this was a little too much. The crime scene had eventually become a media circus.
The police traced Cunanan’s truck back to him so they now knew his identity. The FBI knew about Cunanan so a few agents arrived on scene to provide assistance. Versace’s sister Donatella (Penelope Cruz) arrived to take control of the situation. She was emotional entering the circus around the villa but she still put on a strong face (or sunglasses) as she went in. She immediately shut down the police and D’Amico and then took control of her family’s company, making sure they followed her brother’s wishes.
The police then found an address for Cunanan but when they got there, they found another man named Ronnie (Max Greenfield) who claimed to not know Cunanan. Cunanan bought a bunch of newspapers with the crime on the cover, content with being famous.
Overall, this was a good start to the series, setting the stage for the season. We got the crime out of the way so now we still have to learn the why. We got a glimpse of it through a flashback but we’ll surely get more as the season goes on. The cinematography was great and so were the performances, including Criss as Cunanan and Cruz as Donatella Versace. Criss was charming and showed signs of his damaged psyche while Cruz showed incredible strength, fighting through her bevy of emotions. It will definitely be exciting to see where it goes from here.