(CTN News) – In the form of a Netflix miniseries, Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “All the Light We Cannot See” has finally received its much-anticipated screen treatment after months of waiting.
Despite the fact that the show boasts a shining cast and a stunning backdrop, and cinematic lighting that would make any bespoke Brooklyn bartender salivate, the on-screen translation has ultimately left its audience with a confusing experience.
The story revolves around a radio broadcast from the small, seemingly doomed French town of Saint-Malo during the waning days of World War II, featuring a pair of signal-crossed lovers at a time when it feels like the end of the world.
As the backdrop for the first All The Light We Cannot See episode of the series, the resplendent seaside city, which has been seized by the Nazis, is given to Marie-Laure LeBlanc (Aria Mia Loberti), a blind girl who reads excerpts from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea every night on the radio, an excerpt taken from the braille version that she possesses.
There is one listener who is most ardently devoted to her work: Werner Pfennig (Louis Hofmann), who was conscripted by the Nazis in order to find and destroy anti-German radio broadcasts.
He prefers to listen to Marie’s readings every night, enchanted by the beauty of her words. Death, as with the Shakespearian tragedy, remains ever-present in this scene as well, as the duo seem All The Light We Cannot See poised for a Romeo and Juliet meeting.
During certain points of the film, it can be hard to remember that the main focus of the film is Marie’s museum curator father, Daniel (Mark Ruffalo), who, in the course of the film, is attempting to protect a cursed diamond from a Nazi named Reinhold von Rumpel (Lars Eidinger).
Von Rumpel’s relentless pursuit of Marie becomes the tie that binds Marie and Pfennig together beyond the radio wires that had previously connected them.
There is no doubt that “All the Light We Cannot See” is a beautiful story, and the show’s pacing feels inconsistent, and the jumps between timelines create an awkwardness on screen that does not exist in the print version.
In addition, the limited length of a miniseries does not allow enough time to delve into the nuances of each character’s broken world or to go beyond the shallows of their shallows.
There is a likelihood that fans of the book All The Light We Cannot See will be disappointed by the one-dimensional nature of the characters. In addition, it can be difficult to view Pfennig – a Nazi – sympathetically despite the implied disdain he feels.
Overall, the uneven pacing and timeline jumps create a disjointed viewing experience. A rewiring of “All the Light We Cannot See” on screen would be similar to that of the radio that Pfennig attempts to fix in the first episode.