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HomeEntertainmentTVReview: 'Poker Face' adds another string to the bow of Rian Johnson

Review: ‘Poker Face’ adds another string to the bow of Rian Johnson

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Infused with the essence of Jim Jarmusch and Quentin Tarantino, Peacock unique Poker Face might show to be one other dwelling run for prolific author and director Rian Johnson.

Coming on like Columbo with higher hair and hygiene, Natasha Lyonne (Russan Doll) performs reformed card shark Charlie Cale. An important piece of this anthology hybrid, which effortlessly combines quirky character research with homicide thriller segues, as our anti-hero finds herself pursued throughout America.  

Liberally lifting from the matted detective present, Poker Face units up the circumstances and earmarks these accountable early on, earlier than revealing how Charlie options in flashback. This not solely makes audiences complicit, however provides every visitor star ample time to make their mark. A truth which permits Adrien Brody (Chapelwaite) a chance to flesh out on line casino proprietor Sterling Frost Jr, with sufficient flaws and foibles to make his failures all of the extra tangible in an excellent first episode. 

With a concise and thought of backstory connecting Sterling and Charlie, Johnson revels in revealing how all of the puzzle items come collectively. Dascha Polanco (Samaritan) performs Charlie’s greatest pal Natalie, who begins the ball rolling by stumbling on one thing which may jeopardize the Frost on line casino, which Sterling manages for his overbearing father. 

Roped right into a rigged recreation for prime rollers by Frost Jr, Charlie’s innate capacity to inform when somebody is mendacity will get alerted following Natalie’s disappearance. What follows amongst the mayhem of lifeless our bodies and high-rise suicides, quantities to an opener which finds Ms. Cale rushing away from the scene as police cruisers make haste to analyze. 

What follows is a run of episodes formed round every part relaxation cease she makes, the place foul play is afoot and an assortment of colourful characters make good with murderous intent. Besides the polished construction and stable story decisions, Johnson clearly has a love of detective reveals which matches past his celebrated Knives Out movies. With not-so-subtle hints at homage by the inclusion of Pulp Fiction footage he additionally hints at structural inspiration, even when the visible aesthetic of Poker Face would possibly drift in direction of dated.  

In phrases of Charlie, this goes past the disorganized persona which Lyonne has carried out quite a few occasions earlier than, as this character genuinely appears to evolve. That distinctive voice, mane of hair and inquisitive expression which verges in direction of confusion, actually suits Poker Face like a glove. In truth, it solely takes three episodes earlier than the method itself feels established and by extension the present, that means that this sequence may fairly simply run up a number of seasons. 

Much of that comes all the way down to the efficiency of Lyonne, which is deceptively disarming from the off. By channeling a persona she perfected in Russian Doll, Charlie slowly morphs into a recent detective, solely ever moments away from being caught. With the shadow of Frost Sr. haunting her each transfer, Poker Face additionally maintains an inside momentum which retains this present ticking over. 

As a linchpin for every part which follows, Brody places in one other polished efficiency as Sterling Frost Jr, which but once more demonstrates the innate versatility of this Oscar-winning actor. Both as a confidant to Charlie in that opening episode, in addition to an prosperous turncoat shortly earlier than the top, Poker Face owes a lot to his presence on this pivotal position.  

Elsewhere, Hong Chau makes a memorable impression as long-distance truck driver Marg, who patches up Charlie following a firearms encounter, earlier than hightailing it out of city following the invention of a lifeless physique. Down the highway a bit, Lil Rel Howery imbues BBQ businessman Taffy Boyle with a silver-tongued flip of phrase, as he fights to stop his brother from derailing every part he holds expensive.

Sporting Armani spectacles and the silky tones of a small-town disc jockey, this pint-sized entrepreneur comes unstuck when Charlie rolls into city. Looking to make amends for the habits of her undesirable canine, Cale decides to stay round and assist out. Not solely shaping this character into an “everywoman” within the eyes of audiences, however imbuing her with hints of humanity which add depth beneath the cocksure facade. 

All of those parts add as much as a present which as soon as once more confirms the storytelling prowess of creator Johnson, who but once more delivers one thing distinctive on this Peacock unique, which showcases Lyonne and at last provides her a personality which hits all the precise notes.  

Fantastic

‘Poker Face’ proves to be one other dwelling run for Rian Johnson, aided and abetted by a savvy central efficiency from Natasha Lyonne as Charlie Cale.

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