Stateless , a series created by Cate Blanchett, Tony Ayres and Elise McCredie which has now been broadcast on Netflix, tells the story of a woman who suffers from mental disorders. Then this series also tells about an illegal immigrant from Afghanistan who is detained in an immigration detention center. This series also tells about one of the guards and the detention manager. And even though each character has an interesting story and deserves to be followed, the four stories overlap and instead produce a series that is unfocused and consistent with the storyline itself.
Containing six episodes directed by Emma Freeman and Jocelyn Moorhouse (three episodes each), each episode of Stateless is indeed very well made. We are closely told of each character and much of the time from each episode takes place at the Barton Immigration Detention Center, a fictional immigration detention center in Australia. The intention is indeed noble, to see personally and intimately how each prisoner spends his time, but as I said before, the stories crash into each other and can't even dig deeper into each of the characters.
The series is actually inspired largely by the true story of Cornelia Rau, an Australian citizen who was illegally detained for 10 months in an Australian immigration detention center. In this series, Cornelia Rau is played by Yvonne Strzechowski with the name of the character Sofie Werner. Sofie and Cornelia have similar backgrounds, where both are flight attendants who entered a cult and suffered from mental illness, then because of her disorder she was detained in immigration detention because she disguised herself as German and did not want to reveal her true identity.
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I don't know the true story of Cornelia Rau, I only know the outline. But the story is tragic. How can the government, for 10 months, never once tried to check the background, showing the enormous flaws in its system. Not only that, Sofie is also described as a victim of sexual harassment by her cult leader, Gordon (Dominick West), and aggravating her condition.
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A character that is very complicated like Sofie is indeed not easy to play, especially with a disastrous background like him, and because of that I really admire Yvonne Strzechowski's appearance as Sofie. I already know her from the series The Handmaid's Tale , a series that is both terrible and disturbing, and I do know that she is a talented actress, but in this series I only saw that she is capable of playing a character that is no less complex (or even more complex) than her character The Handmaid's Tale .
After being expelled from the cult because he was deemed undeveloped, Sofie disguised himself as a German in order to leave Australia, but due to incomplete documents and suspicious behavior, he was finally detained at the Barton Immigration Detention Center. Various immigrants are detained here, and some have even lived there for several years with no clear future. Everyone hopes to get a visa to stay in Australia, while Sofie hopes to get out of Australia.
Ameer (Fayssal Bazzi) is one of Barton's prisoners whose past is no less dark. He, along with his wife and two children, left Afghanistan because of the situation in a country that is always ravaged by war and danger. In one of his most emotional moments, he drives a ship containing his wife and children to a large ship that smuggles immigrants while Ameer himself is caught stealing money from a conman smuggler. But he himself also made it to Australia, having to be detained in Barton.
But something tragic happened. His wife and one of his children did not survive while onboard, so now only Ameer and his daughter have survived to Australia and both are detained in Barton. Despite her grief, she insisted on getting visas for herself and her child so that their struggles and sacrifices would not be in vain. He doesn't want to go back to Afghanistan, and he doesn't want to stay in Barton forever, especially with his son who wants to go to school, so he always tries to find a way to survive.
Ameer's story is worth following because of how deep his story is. Likewise with Sofie. And because of that, if the two stories are combined, with the alternating scene between Ameer and Sofie, the emotion I feel is also not very good. When the story of one of them finds something surprising or sad, the scene immediately changes to another character who is also unlucky so that as a viewer, I have to sympathize with this and then sympathize with it which ends up emotionally unstable.
Not only do both of them deserve their own series because it involves a very heavy and different theme, but Stateless also tells about one of its keepers and manager Barton and gives the audience the opportunity to really know what they are feeling. But I don't think his efforts were very successful because it was not the sympathy that arose, but instead the irritation and resentment of the government and every member who worked at Barton and maybe that was not the intention of this series.
"This place can destroy you," said Brian (Darren Gilshenan), boss of Barton's security to the new manager, Claire (Asher Keddie). And it is true, this place was able to make Cam (Jai Courtney), one of the new guards whom I was kind and supportive at first, turned sadistic and brutal, something I regret. Likewise with Claire, whose every decision always made herself an "antagonist" even though she always said her every decision was for the good of Barton and her prisoners. Stateless may want to get the audience to understand why they are doing this and try to spark sympathy, but fail.
And even so, I still appreciate Stateless because his intentions were right and the performances of each actor were excellent, especially Yvonne Strzechowski and Fayssal Bazzi who were able to grasp the complexities and difficulties of being immigration prisoners. The series also raises social issues that are not only happening in Australia, but also around the world regarding government and administrative negligence which is still full of flaws. It's just that there are many stories in it that crash into each other so that they cannot fulfill their potential to dig deeper into these tough issues.
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