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The most popular new Netflix show is the one critics are warning us about

Bad reviews couldn't make this one unappealing, it seems.

All the Light We Cannot See (2023)
Image credit: Netflix

Not every Netflix-distributed movie or TV series which tops the charts is a big hit with critics or audiences. In fact, some even manage to reach the #1 spot and hold it for days despite weak reviews and divisive opinions among viewers. Shawn Levy's limited series adaptation of the famous 2014 prose novel All the Light We Cannot See is one of the latter. At the time of writing, the series has held the #1 spot on Netflix for four days straight in the US and several international territories.

The four-part series currently holds a poor 24% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, with many voices pointing out its biggest problem is how tonally chaotic it can be. For example, IndieWire's Ben Travers said it's "speedy, tear-jerking, and handsome enough," but otherwise "under-developed and over-simplified." These are recurring thoughts among most reviewers, and it seems that many viewers agree with the sentiment, including book readers that call it a "disasterpiece" and "off the story" on the same site. Looking at social media, however, we can find lots of praise for its two leads, newcomer Aria Mia Loberti and Louis Hofmann (of Dark fame).

For those who aren't familiar with the book nor the series, All the Light We Cannot See is set during World War II and revolves around the characters Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a blind French girl who takes refuge in her uncle's house after France is invaded by Nazi Germany, and Werner Pfennig, a bright German boy who is accepted into a military school because of his skills in radio technology. A highlight of the novel is its non-linear structure, but it seems the TV series doesn't make the most out of it (nor its tone). The adaptation was created and written by Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders), and directed by Shawn Levy (Deadpool 3).

This critical misfire shouldn't hurt Levy's relationship with Netflix though. He's been one of the central creative minds behind Stranger Things for years now, and last year he directed the highly successful movie The Adam Project, one of the streamer's biggest 2022 hits. As for Knight, he's been busy rewriting the next big Star Wars movie for Lucasfilm. Funnily enough, Levy also has a big-screen Star Wars project lined up.


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Fran Ruiz

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