Watch Escape at Dannemora
- 1 Season
Escape at Dannemora is a gripping seven-episode series from Showtime, released in 2018. The show is based on a real-life prison break that took place in upstate New York in 2015. The showrunner, Brett Johnson along with screenwriters Michael Tolkin and Jerry Stahl weaves an enthralling tale that explores the lives of inmates and prison staff while capturing their motivations and inner conflicts.
The story follows two convicted murderers, Richard Matt (played by Benicio del Toro) and David Sweat (played by Paul Dano), who escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility with the aid of a married prison employee, Tilly Mitchell (played by Patricia Arquette). The series starts in 2014, with a glimpse of the inmates' daily routine, location, and their interaction with the staff. The viewer gets an insight into the claustrophobic nature of their living conditions and the challenges of prison life. Matt is a master manipulator, who creates handmade artwork and uses it to maintain his power and influence over others. Sweat is the opposite, introspective and quiet.
Tilly Mitchell leads a mundane life, working in the tailoring shop within the prison walls and struggling with the monotony of her marriage to her husband Lyle (played by Eric Lange). Her life takes a turn when she starts an illicit affair with Richard Matt, a man she sees as her saviour. Matt charms her with his charisma, promises and manipulates her to the point of convincing her to help him and Sweat escape from prison. Arquette's performance as Tilly Mitchell is exceptional, capturing the character's vulnerability, desperation, and inner turmoil.
The series is not just about the prison break but also provides a glimpse into the hardships of the prison staff. Alongside the escape narrative, the viewer follows the lives of the correction officers who interact with Matt, Sweat, and Tilly. Michael Imperioli plays a prison worker with the disposition of an experienced officer but struggles to maintain his family's financial stability. Bonnie Hunt plays a female correction officer, a rare breed in the male-dominated prison system. She encounters challenges such as sexual harassment from inmates and colleagues.
The direction of the series by Ben Stiller adds another layer of aesthetics to the show's narrative. His work manages to bring out the gritty, realism of the prison setting while capturing its bleakness and the charactersâ complexity. The showâs aspect ratio, predominantly in 2.39:1, adds a cinematic scale to the series, elevating it beyond conventional television.
At the crux of Escape at Dannemora is the manipulation that takes place by the perpetrators on Tilly. The show doesn't glorify the escapes; instead, it stays on the ground and explores the reality of the environment the characters operate in. The complexity of the relationships, coupled with the performances by Del Toro, Dano, and Arquette, creates an unvarnished portrayal of the struggles of prison life and the reminder of how the public often overlooks those behind bars.
Although the actual events took place in only 20 days, the series takes the time to explore the inner workings of the prison and the psyche of its inhabitants. It's a character-driven drama that doesn't shy away from displaying the graphic nature of prison life. It shows a side of America that is often ignored, the daily lives of those in prison, their struggles, and the events that may lead to their incarceration.
In conclusion, Escape at Dannemora is a must-watch for anyone looking for a character-driven drama that blends a true story with quality performances from its actors. It's not just the inmates but also the prison staff that gets a voice in this series. The direction and cinematography make the show appealing to the eye, while the story provides a glimpse into the harsh reality of prison life in America. The show has been lauded for its cinematography and performances, with Arquette winning the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Limited Series or Television Movie. It's a show that is a must-watch for anyone who values good storytelling and the value of quality performances to bring the story to life.
Escape at Dannemora is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (9 episodes). The series first aired on November 18, 2018.