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Margaret Atwood's Psychological Prison Thriller Is Coming to Netflix

'Alias Grace' follows a convicted killer's experience in a women's prison and her struggle to unlock the memories that could prove her innocence.

by Beckett Mufson
Sep 8 2017, 5:12pm

Screencap via YouTube

Margaret Atwood's work is a goldmine for stories about women facing down institutional power. Her novel The Handmaid's Tale has taken on mimetic success with Hulu's television adaptation, making the titular characters' red cloaks and white hoods a ubiquitous symbol for resistance against President Donald Trump.

Now Netflix is betting on an adaptation of the Canadian author's 1996 novel Alias Grace, a deep dive into the incarceration of a maid named Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), who was sentenced to life in prison for the 1843 murder of the family she served. The story, which is loosely based on a real case, follows Marks as she meets a fictional proto-psychologist who begins working with her.

Alias Grace's harrowing first trailer takes viewers inside the brutal conditions Marks faced during the 15 years she served in a women's prison in Ontario. Marks faces solitary confinement and corporeal punishment—typically inhumane for the pre-1900s prison reform movement—before she meets Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft), who becomes interested in her case for his research.

Through their work, Dr. Jordan and Marks begin to unravel the role that memory plays in her crime and how it could be the key to her innocence—but may also unlock some repressed trauma.

"I hope sooner or later, I will back your memory," Dr. Jordan says optimistically. Marks returns a dark look before saying, "I'm not at all sure I want it back."

Alias Grace also co-stars Anna Paquin as Marks's power-tripping mistress, and Zachary Levi as mysterious peddler and "Neuro-Hypnotist" Jeremiah Pontelli, who warns Marks that she is in danger. Directed by American Psycho's Mary Harron, expect Alias Grace to be as introspective and creepy as it is violent.

The six-part Alias Grace miniseries premieres on Netflix November 3. Watch the trailer above.