It didn’t take any time for the newest Netflix series featuring an impressive cast of Native American actors to get started on drawing in the viewer. Within just a short time, Chambers, featuring Native actress Sivan Alyra Rose grabs the viewer in by the throat, hard — and never lets go.
The acting — by everyone — is flawless. The series — featuring such longtime actors as Uma Thurman, Tony Goldwyn, and others, while also employing such newcomers as Rose — was never overacted, and never lacking in substance. It was sincerely enjoyable from the onset to the end of the tenth episode — a rare achievement for any series of episodes.
The entire 10-episode series was excellent, as were the actors, as were the directors, as was the script. Simply said, Chambers is a genuine work of art, that captures the subtlety of interactions between Native and non-Native America, all while adhering to an ominous, and uneasy storyline of a young Dine’ girl who nearly dies and is given a heart by a young non-Native girl, who had died hours earlier.
This heart transplant is not a spoiler, and is part of the description of the first episode by Netflix, which is written thusly:
A young heart attack survivor becomes consumed by the mystery surrounding the heart that saved her life. However, the closer she gets to uncovering the truth about her donor's sudden death, the more she starts taking on the characteristics of the deceased — some of which are troublingly sinister.
The series is beautifully Native. The story takes place within the confines of a few suburbs, one of the homes is just outside of the Navajo Nation, and therein lives Big Frank Yazzie, flawlessly played by Marcus LaVoi, White Earth, and his niece Sasha Yazzie played to perfection by acting newcomer Sivan Alyra Rose, Apache. The other home is in the suburbs of Crystal Valley, an upper-class residence owned by the non-Native family of the girl who gave her heart to Sasha. The story involves both families to the point of turmoil, tragedy, and heartache — literally.
I cannot say enough how well the actors did in this series. The chemistry between Sasha Yazzie (Rose) and her Uncle Frank was masterful. There is not one word that came out of their mouths that I didn’t buy ten-fold. The relationship was genuine, gritty and all too real.
Other great relationships were between Sasha and her young Dine’ boyfriend TJ (Griffin Powell-Arcand) who struggles with his own Native identity while trying to deal with his girlfriend Sasha’s anguish in a terrible and ominous situation. Sasha’s friend Yvonne, (Kyanna Simone Simpson) who has to contend with her own mother’s sickness, is also a wonderful actress that has great chemistry with Sasha.
Sasha must also deal with the family of Becky, the girl who had donated her heart after dying. Uma Thurman, (Nancy, the mother) Tony Goldwyn, (Ben the father) and (Nicholas Galitzine) Becky’s junkie brother, all also do a tremendously great job in the series. As a mother struggling to come to terms with the death of her only daughter, Uma Thurman does some of her best work to date.
The series dives into a Native world and lends a subtle nod to Dine’ culture without having to explain itself to others “who might not be in on the joke.” With episodes directed by several indigenous directors to include Sydney Freeland, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and Dana Gonzales, many times a bit of indigenous flavor is hidden in confines of the subtext, a brilliant and welcomed accomplishment.
Since Sasha is the recipient of a ‘white girl’s heart,’ and she later states people might perceive her as an ‘apple’ (a slang term for red on the outside, white on the inside) due to her disconnection to her Native family, some viewers will likely miss the inference. People may also not notice the many instances of misappropriation when new age people are using sage bundles and crystals or Native mascots are emblazoned in big letters on a school wall.
For once, it was nice to be ‘in on the joke.’
Thoughts overall on Chambers
It is truly stunning that Sivan Alyra Rose is an actress so new in the Hollywood scene. She handles the ten-episode series like a seasoned pro. In short — she owned it.
The story overall is a creepy, psychological thriller with heart-wrenching spiritual horrific other-worldly elements that make the viewer deliciously uneasy. The creep factor is exceptionally high and the mystery that continues to unfold still leaves viewers reeling at the potential complexities that can still reveal themselves.
Chambers, starring Sivan Alyra Rose, is breathtakingly brilliant — do not miss it.
Rated MA for some adult situations and sexuality, violence, and language.
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