Chernobyl ★★★★★

Bleak as fuck. Some of the best production work in recent memory. The filming, coloring, makeup, costumes, locations – everything contributes to an overall atmosphere that is profoundly grim. It feels like a film-based incarnation of brutalism: raw, spare, and gray.

The acting is excellent (if you can get past the fact that all these eastern Europeans have British accents). Some characters like the miners or soviet administrators are a bit cartoonish, but I suppose some caricature and simplification is needed to succinctly communicate how all the moving parts contribute to the bigger, complex picture.

Beyond the main players in the primary plotline, the handful of individual stories of people affected by the disaster really drives home the tragedy of it all, from the young woman and her firefighter husband to the newbie animal control worker and plant employees.

It’s still amazing to me that all of this is based on actual events. You couldn’t make up most of this stuff, and its origins in history make you want to keep watching even though it is so bleak.

What a horrible chapter in human history.