Netflix UK TV review: Voir
Daniel Broadley | On 12, Dec 2021
When Netflix teased that they had an impending announcement regarding their latest project with David Fincher, many were disappointed that instead of confirming a new season of the much- loved Mindhunter, the acclaimed director would be producing an anthology of visual essays alongside David Prior on “the love of film”.
However, for cinephiles, Voir is far from a disappointment. Keen-eyed viewers will recognise two of Voir’s narrators, Tony Zhou and Taylor Ramos, as the producers of the popular YouTube series Every Frame a Painting. Some of their videos have millions of views, thus providing Netflix with evidence that there is an appetite for such content.
Zhou and Ramos narrate essays The Ethics of Revenge and Film vs Television respectively. The former focused on Park Chan-wook’s Lady Vengeance as a springboard into a deeper look at the nature of revenge on film – most notably, the way revenge flicks often cut through and make viewers question what they might do in the character’s position, but none quite as strongly, Zhou argues, as Lady Vengeance. Ramos’ Film vs Television essay is perhaps the most contemporary of the six, examining the relationship between TV and film and, most importantly, streaming services. It’s a debate that is very much on the minds of movie-goers after the Covid-19 pandemic raised questions about the commercial survivability of cinemas. Plus, nobody can deny that the quality of TV shows over the past 20 or so years has vastly improved. Since The Sopranos, viewers have been spoilt for choice for character-driven dramas with long, satisfying arcs that rival some of cinema’s finest films. But are we at risk of reducing both TV and film merely to bits of “content” to boost subscriptions?
But I Don’t Like Him, narrated by Drew McWeeney, and The Duality of Appeal, led by animator Glen Keane, both focus on viewers’ perceptions of the characters on screen. Whereas McWeeney uses Lawrence of Arabia as a starting point to examine characters who are, by real-life standards, “bad people”, The Duality of Appeal offers an insight into the world of animation and the filmmaking process involved in creating animated characters that appeal to audiences.
But I Don’t Like Him doesn’t really have anything new to say and puts a little too much emphasis on Martin Scorsese’s films for its analysis to be broad enough, but it drives home the idea that some of cinema’s most fascinating characters are perhaps some of the worst people. The Duality of Appeal is more interesting in that animation is a much less understood area of filmmaking for the average movie lover, and Keane makes some good critical points regarding the perception of female animated characters.
Bookending the Voir series are the autobiographical Summer of the Shark, narrated by Sasha Stone, and Profane and Profound, with analysis from Walter Chaw. The former is an ideal starting point for the whole series, honing in on a very specific time in Stone’s life when Jaws was released in 1975, and she describes how she fell in love with cinema; it’s like a miniature coming-of-age film that captures the moment the Hollywood blockbuster began – something that can be traced right up to the Marvel production line today.
Walter Chaw’s essay cleverly mixes the critical with the personal as he dives into the 1982 hit buddy-cop movie 48 Hrs and its critique of systemic racism. Chaw first saw the film in the third grade and it clearly had a profound effect on him, and he uses this to fuel his razor-sharp analysis of a film that, at 40 years old, could not be more relevant today.
Voir is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.