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We Were the Lucky Ones movie review (2024)

While the script can get bogged down in the kind of expository dialogue meant to catch the viewer up rather than pushing the story forward, the sturdy direction by Amit Gupta, Neasa Hardiman, and Thomas Kail keep one engaged. Tangible period detail intermingled with exhaustive costuming imbues the historical drama palpability, even if the photography is too darkly lit. Still, the tension is fully felt. In one scene, Mila and Felicia are hauled off to quite literally dig their own graves. The cross cutting between Mila giving her daughter instructions toward possible survival is a nerve-wracking scene that speaks to the unrelenting dread and devastation that looms over the entire miniseries.       

It’s difficult to go too deep into each character’s journey, if only because such avenues will lead to spoilers. But suffice to say that King, in a more mature role than in her hit “Kissing Booth” franchise, is a notable highlight. She never plays the character’s many tragedies too broad, retaining a difficult measure of grit and tenacity that rarely dims even as the odds grow bleak. Yaron as Mila is also adept at translating the internal turmoil of a resourceful mother always on the precipice of cracking under the immense pressure of protecting her child. And Lloyd-Hughes as Genek, who undergoes the greatest change—altering from suave playboy into a hardened realist—is particularly potent in a physically grueling turn.   

Despite the rolling tragedies, “We Were the Lucky Ones” does somehow end on a hopeful, albeit ruminative note. The survivors do not merely feel joy for living; there is an unmistakable sadness to knowing what can never exist again that hangs over these final moments. There were, of course, many families like the Krucs, and the series takes well to remain in the bandwidth of that symbolism, even if you can often see the heartstrings being pulled. The clear crafting of those obvious emotions doesn’t make the tears engendered by the ending any less earned and real. “We Were the Lucky Ones” is a defiant and harrowing, soul shattering story—one that gives the full range of the horrors that occur when you’ve been displaced, unmoored, and dehumanized.   

Entire season screened for reviewPremieres on Hulu on March 28th.

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