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Expats (2024) | Review

By Aqsa Anwar 

Rating: 5/5

Image by Justin Chan on flickr

Expats the series, which is currently being released, stars Nicole Kidman as Margaret and follows the aftermath of a mysterious occurrence that has irrevocably altered the lives of all the characters within the show. The series was created by Lulu Wang and is based on Janice Y. K. Lee’s book, The Expatriates

From the offset, I was hooked on the opening scene which showcases a transfixing demonstration of incidents that—while far away from the series’ actual events—highlight the central themes of culpability. 

Whilst the first episode does leave a veil over the truth that led the characters to their present lives, the second episode unpacks and showcases the complex events that happened one year earlier. 

Using the episodes in contrast, it is clear that the characters have lost their vibrancy over the course of the year as they attempt to cope with their lives as they currently are. 

The complexity of Margaret is undeniable, as Nicole Kidman expertly approaches the series with a palpable sense of grief, portraying a mother trying to keep it all together. Particularly, a moment within the first episode between Margaret and Hilary (played by Sarayu Blue) sums up the most compelling aspects of Margaret.

How do you get over the worst thing that could happen to you? How do you get rid of the guilt of finding joy and laughter afterwards?  

Each character introduced within the series is fully developed and holds their own as part of the show. The casting choices were impeccable as all the actors were remarkable in their portrayals of each character. They work together to convey the struggle of coping with the aftermath of the awful events, however much they wish they didn’t have to. 

Additionally, an extra layer exists in the series; it takes place within the upper-class remit of Hong Kong where many of the characters are extremely well off. Mercy and David remind us that even with the luxury of these environments, there often is a wish for true connection. These moments are expertly portrayed through awkward and stilted encounters depicted throughout the series, which show that the characters aren’t able to be their true selves. 

Image by MItch Altman on flickr

Also, themes of feminism and the sacrifices women have made in order to make their families happy are explored. This is confronted head-on as we see how women within the upper-class Hong Kong area are dismissed and forced to endure unapologetic selfishness from those around them, as though their wishes are inconvenient. 

In terms of the cinematography, it did not disappoint. Every angle appeared to be thoughtfully planned and orchestrated, allowing the audience's curiosity to be piqued. 

Finally, following the revelation of the catalyst to the series, we finish the second episode with a beautiful yet bleak picture.

It serves as a reminder that time does indeed go on.  

In summary, Expats is extremely well done and a show I highly recommend for anyone interested in a complex exploration of one of the most unthinkable occurrences in someone’s life. 

The remainder of Expats will be released weekly on Thursdays available on Amazon Prime, with the first two episodes of six episodes available to watch now. 


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