On July 15, 1997, one of the most perverse convergences of twentieth-century fate occurred in South Beach, Miami: standing in front of his mansion, superstar designer Gianni Versace was shot dead by Andrew Cunanan, a young man who recently achieved his own dreadful celebrity as a serial killer on the run.
Titled The murder of Gianni Versace is an appropriate theme for season 2 of Ryan Murphy American Crime Story. The first season of the series, The People v. O.J. Simpson high collar hook to an art. This is also a juicy, scandalous and tragic saga: the murderous homicide of Cunanan, of three months, was foolish, sensational and frightening – everything almost invaded the headlines – and his suicide when closing the authorities left fundamental questions about his motives and his psychology without resolving.
However, the power and importance of this Crime Story arise less from the violent suspense (it has) than its sensitivity nuanced to the fact that the murderer and most of his victims, Versace (Édgar Ramírez) included, they were homosexuals. Assassination works like a huge tuning fork that vibrates in response to the surges of tension that undermined gay existence throughout the United States in the 1990s.
The show goes so far as to suggest that Cunanan, like Matt Damon in the 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley became a cold-blooded killer because of homophobia? Well, no. But this was still an era in which the acceptance of gay identity, internally and externally, was a paranoid and loaded business.
The closet was not an incubator of good mental health.
However, let's get back to the most exciting subject of violent suspense.
Assassination based on Maureen Orth Vulgar Favors ranges from luxury to bloody, but its nine episodes (eight of which were available for preview) naturally focus more in Cunanan ( Glee & # 39; s Darren Criss). If Cunanan could somehow resurrect today, he could well publish his Instagram murders under the crazy notion that he was a type of influence: he was obsessed with celebrity media, and he seems to have papered his mind insane with images from magazines of fashion, Rodeo Drive brands and celebrities first.
RELATED VIDEO: The day Gianni Versace died: why did a serial killer point to the fashion icon outside his mansion in Miami?
But romantic delirium (and disillusionment) may have been what triggered his murders: when the man Cunanan considered love of his life, the architect David Madson (Cody Fern), did not correspond to his feelings, he became obsessed with a friend in common, Jeffrey Trail (Finn Wittrock), a former lieutenant of the Navy, as his rival and obstacle. Both Madson and Trail ended up dead, the first by bullet and the second by a hammer.
The murder slowly works backwards since the assassination of Versace, the fifth and final murder of Cunanan. Episode 8 even extends to Cunanan and the children of Versace in Italy and on the west coast, respectively. We have little Gianni, whose mother dressmaker respects and encourages his talent in design, and little Andrew, whose Filipino father, a fraudulent stockbroker, feeds him with lies about wealth and privilege. Gianni draws. Andrew reads Brideshead Revisited and chooses "Après moi, le dèluge" ("After me, the flood") as an appointment for the high school yearbook. Gianni, worker and blessed with genius, establishes a label recognized worldwide. Andrew, handsome and sophisticated, becomes gigolo to very rich sugar daddies in San Diego.
In general, however, being a man in charge is not much better than being a dairy product maintained: the expiration date comes soon. And so it happened with Cunanan.
Unloved, unsuccessful and less and less attired, were you jealous of Versace? Possibly. That would make this kind of like a serial killer Amadeus, with Cunanan as a Salieri especially crazy about Versace's Mozart
Even so, none of this makes Cunanan understandable or, when all It is said and done, pitiful. Otherwise, this could be In cold blood for fashionistas.
That said, it is difficult to assess how well Criss's performance works in such a cheating and diabolical role. It has a striking physical resemblance to Cunanan, but it has not been directed in a way that suggests the deeply ambiguous core – that is, an oxymoron – of this man who could be both a gentle and skillful disassembler and, as a murderer, such a bloody and clumsy improviser. To say that the safest approach for a character like this is sick humor – Christian Bale in American Psycho or even Kathleen Turner in Serial Mom – does not mean that it is always the right way.
What puts this Cunanan in the broader context of the series, and quite cleverly, is his intuition of how he works as a gay man, constantly calculating how much of himself he can risk to reveal with confidence: how much can he get away with? his not as a psychopath, but as a man. Pressuring David Madson to be his accomplice in getting rid of Jeff Trail's body, he tells him not to call the police: "They hate us, they've always hated us. You're af -."
He also reminds us, painfully, that Versace's decision to come out with an interview at The Advocate had the potential to ruin his business (according to Orth, he was HIV positive). Trail leaves the Navy desperate, here, we see him about to hang himself, due to his brutal institutional intolerance. The FBI, when questioning Versace's lover, Antonio D & # 39; Amico (Ricky Martin) after the murder, can not understand what the "partner" of a homosexual would be. Even old sugar daddies seem leery of anything outside their rich but circumscribed circle.
It's a long way from here to Call me by your name .
The murder of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story opens on Wednesday night at 10 p.m. M. ET in FX.