The Expats Show Review

Deepanjana Pal

A Thought-Provoking Adaptation

The Expats is a thought-provoking adaptation of Janice Y.K. Lee’s novel The Expatriates, in which a tragic incident acts as a catalyst in the lives of a group of people who are expats in Hong Kong.

Feels Like a Cinematic Allegory

The Expats presents a very different aspect of famously-crowded Hong Kong. It also feels like a cinematic allegory for director Lulu Wang’s poignant show about three outsiders whose paths cross only because they’ve made their home in the island city. 

Wang Often Veers Away From The Source Material

But with the author’s blessings (Lee wrote the screenplay for the last episode). She introduces details and minor characters who bring in diverse perspectives that contrast sharply with the insularity of expatriate life.

Cinematography Brings Hong Kong to Life

The city is filmed exquisitely by cinematographer Anna Franquesa Solano, who uses cool tones and rich colours to bring out Hong Kong’s many facets, from concrete resilience to neon moodiness.      

Nicole Kidman is The Weakest Link of The Show

The Expats is a meditation upon motherhood, which is a topic that Nicole Kidman has approached repeatedly in her recent projects but her performance is stilted and mechanical. In sharp contrast, Sarayu Blue delivers a standout performance as Hilary.

Wang's Sensitive Filmmaking Works

Unfortunately, despite its elegant storytelling, the plotting of The Expats feels less assured than the nuanced character studies that the show offers. Fortunately, the awkward parts of The Expat feel like details that are easily dismissed.