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‘Under The Bridge’: The Kids Are (Not) Alright In This Heartbreaking Hulu Original

The Extraordinary Lily Gladstone and Riley Keough star in Hulu’s Gripping ‘Under The Bridge’.

under the bridge review
Hulu

There are times in my life, and I’m sure in others, when I reflect on things I said and did as a teenager. We all have such moments, but in the end, we can reflect on our journey and how much we have grown. Unfortunately, the young characters in Quinn Shephard’s new Hulu series, Under the Bridge appear to fail to learn from their mistakes. The extraordinary crime drama series based on the true story and the disappearance of 14-year-old Reena Virk, examines complex character connections while also touching on issues such as teen bullying and discrimination.

Under The Bridge Review

Under The Bridge Review
Hulu

It’s 1997, a quaint island in BC. Rebecca Godfrey (Riley Keough), a young novelist, returns to her hometown to concentrate on her new book about missing girls. The tranquility, however, doesn’t last long. Reena Virk (Vritika Gupta), a 14-year-old girl, attends a party and never returns home. Her disappearance disturbs the entire peaceful town as police zero in on the group of girls from the near group home—Josephine (Chloe Guidry), Kelly (Izzy G.), and Dusty (Aiyana Goodfellow) as well as their friend, Warren (Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton). Rebecca is soon dragged into the dark world of the juvenile suspects, as she also reunites with her childhood friend and the investigation’s lead officer, Cam Bentland (Lily Gladstone). Both women become integral parts of the investigation. As they both still grieve the death of Rebecca’s brother, Gabe (Teagan Stark), the women realize there is more between them to discuss. 

Although Under the Bridge covers a wide range of topics and storylines, Reena and her family’s story take center stage, and appropriately so. From episode to episode, the producers introduce us to the girl and, in particular, her family—an immigrant family from India who moved to the United States in pursuit of a better life. Suman (Archie Panjabi) and Manjit (Ezra Faroque Khan) are Reena’s loving yet demanding parents. Their strong faith as Jehovah’s Witnesses frequently clashes with Reena’s rebellious teenage experiences. The portrayal of the Virk family in Under the Bridge sparks further discussion about bigotry and ignorance among Canadians towards immigrants. The series focuses on highlighting the truth about Reena’s case to raise awareness and respect for her.

Under The Bridge Review on Hulu
Hulu

Under the Bridge’s creativity and talent can be appreciated regardless of whether the scenes center on the teenage characters or the exchanges between Rebecca and Cam. Undoubtedly, Keough and Gladstone are unstoppable as the stars of the show. Both bestow upon their audience complex and gripping performances. As Rebecca and Cam, the actors convey an unbreakable bond between childhood friends, forever linked in grief and so much more. In addition, Keough’s portrayal of the real Rebecca Godfrey is a revelation. As we follow the confident, passionate writer who has recently returned to her hometown, Keough’s dedication for the character continually shines through. We also must commend the costume and makeup designers. The actor from The Lodge effortlessly transforms into Godfrey utilizing wardrobe, hairstyle, and makeup. Gladstone, too, paints a thought-provoking portrayal of a quiet, clever, and intuitive cop, continuing to showcase her acting craft.

But Shepard understands what she’s doing, and she doesn’t take away from continually depicting Reena’s life, as well as the events that led up to and followed the tragedy. Thus, Panjabi as Suman, Khan as Manjit, Gupta as Reena, and Anoop Desai as Reena’s uncle leave an indelible impression on the viewers. The four actors produce terrific, stupendous, and, most importantly, thought-provoking performances. As we watch episode after episode, we can’t help but think about the Virk family and how real Reena is portrayed in the Hulu show. As previously said, through the portrayal of the Virks, the series explores the topic of immigration and the difficulties that immigrant families encounter while relocating to a new country. Under the Bridge also briefly discusses Indigenous children in Canada being taken away from their family and adopted, most of the times by white families, which contributed to erasure of Canada’s actual culture and history.

Under The Bridge Review
Hulu

In 8 episodes, Under the Bridge bears multiple solid storylines, each integral to the main plot. Episode 3 titled “Blood Oath”, directed by Catherine Hardwicke and written by Jihan Crowther is one for the books as well as the series finale titled “Mercy Alone”, directed by Kevin Phillips and written by Samir Mehta. Although these episodes stand out, each one contributes to the overall lasting impact of the series. Under the Bridge also exudes a terrific 90s vibe. Because the series is set in 1997, the creators do an excellent job at recreating the era, particularly in terms of clothes, such as Rebecca’s leather jacket, black trousers, polished nails, and, best of all, dark-shaded lipstick.

In the end, Under the Bridge will be a fantastic choice for true crime sleuths and those interested in Reena’s life as well as fans of Gladstone and Keough. The series masterfully portrays complicated emotions and interactions amongst adolescents, including teenage guilt, sadness, and anger. That being said, the series is also an excellent choice for teenagers and young adults alike. In fact, it may be a crucial watch as it might serve as a cautionary tale, detailing how each of our actions has repercussions, regardless of our age. As we finish the last episode of the show, perhaps we can all take a moment and think of our words and actions because sometimes, they have razor-sharp aim and can lead to tragedy. 

Grade: A



Under the Bridge

Under the Bridge

Reena Virk, a fourteen-year-old girl went to join friends at a party and never returned home. Seven teenage girls and a boy were accused of the savage murder.

Release Date: April 17, 2024

Director: Geeta Patel

Cast: Riley Keough , Lily Gladstone , Matt Craven

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