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The Forgiving Earth
Politically charged and intelligently written, Black Earth Rising sheds light on the Rwandan Genocide while keeping a central focus on a dramatic and thrilling legal plot throughout its 8 episodes. While this globe-trotting thriller is a little slow paced at times, the bursts of drama are hard hitting and do well to keep you on edge while watching this one unfold.
The story begins with Rwandan born Kate Ashby returning to work with her adopted mother Eve. Still suffering from traumatic events as a child, her past nightmares come back to haunt her in the form of a Rwandan war criminal, bringing with it painful memories of her past. To make matters worse, a shocking tragedy brings chaos into the mix but with it, a more determined Kate than ever before to see the case through to the end. It’s at this point where Kate teams up with Michael and their focus changes somewhat.
The rest of the episodes focus ona new legal case involving Alice Munezero with Kate and Michael working together to bring justice while echoes of Rwanda hang heavily over the narrative. With powerful forces in the shadows looking to thwart Kate’s plans, several attempts on her life result in an extra element of danger being added to the show for dramatic effect. All of which escalating to a dramatic finale where conspiracies are uncovered and both Kate and Alice fight for their lives in the heart of Africa.
The story itself is really well worked and with 8 episodes at a little under an hour extra, there’s a good amount of content to chew through. While most of the episodes revolve around the legal trials and furthering the plot, the slower and sombre moments rely on its actors to move things forward and it’s here where Black Earth Rising really shines.
Both John Goodman and Michaela Coel really come into their own here and their believable chemistry together is the driving force for much of the series. Michaela in particular really owns her role and as more light is shed on her troubled past, her conflicted feelings toward Rwanda and her harrowing experience as a child is believably showcased through some really emotionally charged dialogue.
Aesthetically, Black Earth Rising makes some pretty interesting choices with its use of colour as well. Black and white dominate the early scenes and along with race being an important part of the show itself, this striking use of bold, contrasting colours really hammers this message home on a subliminal level. This continues throughout the show too and although the later episodes don’t quite have the same level of artistry the early ones had, there’s still a good level of attention put to the general camera work and cinematography.
Although it is a little slow paced and a tad overlong, Black Earth Rising’s politically charged and poignant storytelling keeps the show moving with just enough drama and tension. Despite the slow pace, it’s worth persevering with this one as things do get more exciting toward the end of the series. It won’t be for everyone but the acting from the two lead stars should be enough to keep you watching this well written drama.
Verdict - 7.5/10