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Under the Bridge series review: Good cast, decent acting, but bland narrative in this true-crime story

Under the Bridge is based on a novel by the same name by the late Rebecca Godfrey, that chronicles the circumstances that led to the death of a 14-year-old girl of Indian origin, Reena Virk.

Under the Bridge series review: Good cast, decent acting, but bland narrative in this true-crime story
Vritika Kapoor as Reena Virk in Under the Bridge

Last Updated: 07.20 PM, May 30, 2024


Under the Bridge series story: When Reena Virk (Vritika Kapoor), a 14-year-old Indian origin girl in Saanich, British Columbia, is reported missing, it is at first thought that she'd run away like she'd done before. But when rumour springs that she's at the bottom of the gorge and a search finds her underwear, the subsequent investigation reveals that she had been viciously beaten up earlier by a bunch of her peers. An attack that the battered and bruised Reena actually limped away from, and yet, she never made it home. And then, days later, her body was found floating in the gorge.


Under the Bridge series review: The 8-part true-crime series on Disney+ Hotstar is based on a book by the late Rebecca Godfrey, which, in turn, is about the real-life story of the death of a 14-year-old girl of Indian origin in 1997. Reena Virk, a teenager desperate to just 'fit in' with her peers, is violently assaulted by a group of six, with two returning later and finishing the job.

Lily Gladstone in Under the Bridge
Lily Gladstone in Under the Bridge

Reena's troubles, though, were not all about the bunch of kids she wanted to hang out with - most of who lived in a government-run group home and had barely any family to speak of. Born into a family of Jehovah Witnesses, Reena rebelled against the discipline she was meant to follow and wanted the freedoms that her 'pals' enjoyed. When she did not get that at home, she found a way to get away and live with the kids, who'd eventually be the end of her.

The series crosses off the what, where, who, why and how of the crime, as seen by the investigating cop, Cam Bentland (Lily Gladstone) and writer Rebecca Godfrey (Riley Keough) and what's disturbing is that the perpetrators were all kids, one of who did not even know Reena, but participated in her brutal assault because he was going through some sh*t in his life.

Riley Keough in Under the Bridge
Riley Keough in Under the Bridge

Under the Bridge, like many other series that are limited or otherwise, suffers from being allowed 8 episodes of nearly 1 hour duration each for its narrative. This leaves for a lot of space fillers, like the episode about the budding romance of Reena’s parents, including her father Manjit’s conversion to his wife Suman’s faith supposedly for love and not as an easy means to a green card.

Rebecca and Cam’s previous history and rekindled romance, as well as the latter’s first nation roots are also elements that creep in add to the fluff of the tale that could have been left at the editing table. The way it is now, Under the Bridge feels perfunctory; the facts are there, but it’s otherwise cold, much like the water under the bridge.

A still from Under the Bridge
A still from Under the Bridge

What saves it, though, is that the casting of the teens is quite spot on and each of them does a fantastic job. Starting with Kapoor as Reena, Aiyana Goodfellow as Dusty, Javon Walton as Warren, Chloe Guidry as Josephine and, most importantly, Izzy G as Kelly – all of them troubled youngsters, but only one a total sociopath.

The adults, including Archie Punjabi as Reena’s mom Suman, Ezra Faroque Khan as Manjit, Gladstone and Keough have roles that are not much to talk about. All that Gladstone does is look pensive, sad and sometimes angry too, while Keough gets to be just as troubled as the teenagers she is writing about. Perhaps a little more about why Reena’s relationship with her folks was so tumultuous would have given the story some more depth.

Under the Bridge verdict: Under the Bridge has a poignant story; it just had to be told better.


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