‘Under the Bridge’ Adapts a Lesser-Known True Crime Story Into a Great Drama

Ulises Duenas


In 2005, Rebecca Godfrey released Under the Bridge, a true crime story exploring the murder of 14-year-old Reena Virk in 1997 British Columbia. The book not only analyzes the crime, but also the lives of the girls involved and the circumstances that led to the event. Now, Hulu has adapted the story into a mini-series.


The show does a great job of establishing the setting and characters so the viewer has a clear idea of what’s in store. Saanich, British Columbia, had a subset of troubled youths who were heavily influenced by ‘90s rap culture and tried to replicate the style and behavior of LA street gangs. Virk, who was ostracized in school, is drawn into that world because it’s her only means of feeling a sense of belonging. 



Godfrey was returning to the area at the time to find inspiration for a book about the lives of the girls who live in a group home since they have nowhere else to go. There, she meets Josephine Bell, the de facto leader of the girls. Godfrey quickly learns of their harsh lifestyle and the fact that the city sees them as disposable.


The show is edited and directed very well, because it gives you bits and pieces of the whole story as it goes along, though not in chronological order. It does a good job of showing the more dramatic parts of the story and then flashbacks to give them context.



Of course, the whole show works as well as it does because of the cast -- with Riley Keough and Oscar nominee Lily Gladstone in the lead -- and their stellar performances. In particular, Keough as Godfrey is a standout because she subtly shows the character's feelings about the events around her. As she delves deeper into the girls’ troubled world, she maintains a face of confidence despite seeing and hearing deeply upsetting things. She’s not a necessary moral character at all times, and her past plays a large role in the story -- both of those aspects make her character interesting. 


The show starts with a message stating this version of the story is dramatized, so it’s hard to tell where fact ends and fiction begins.



Still, Under the Bridge is an intriguing drama that is told well. It succeeds in establishing its setting and tone while also using its cast effectively. I’m not usually a fan of true crime shows, but I have to say this one is quite well-executed and compelling. 


Author Bio:

Ulises Duenas is a senior writer and film critic at Highbrow Magazine.


For Highbrow Magazine


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