When I heard about the new British Netflix drama series The One, which focuses on a program to match people to their soulmates using DNA, I immediately flashed back to the similarly themed French show Osmosis, from 2019, and thought, “Who needs another one of these?” But it turns out The One is really watchable and has an abundance of what the previous series lacked — suspense.
The twist in The One is that while it might sound like the best news ever, this program wreaks havoc with all the marriages and relationships that came before it and the divorce rate spikes. The creator of the app, Rebecca Webb (Hannah Ware), doesn’t care. She is determined to match up billions using it – and make billions in the process. But her success creates tensions between her and her business partner (Dimitri Leonidas), as well as with her roommate (Amir El-Masry), who loves her. There are also plot lines about a police detective (Zoë Tapper) investigating a murder and coping with an unexpected development after she is “matched” to a mysterious Spanish woman, and a very appealing couple (Lois Chimimba and Eric Kofi-Abrefa) who find that the very concept of “The One” causes strains in their marriage.
This is one of those Netflix series that features a chic, young, racially diverse group of characters, as if the idea of anyone over 45 getting matched just does not compute. The fashions are interesting – after her success, Rebecca starts dressing like Sean Young in Blade Runner, which can’t be a coincidence – and this is the best real-estate porn since Big Little Lies.
Amazon’s PrimeVideo is currently running a third similarly themed series, Soulmates, about a perfect dating app, but it’s more earnest and less stylish fun than The One, with each episode about a different character. It stars Sarah Snook (Succession), Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things) and Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad).
TWO DOCUMENTARIES about recent events may leave you a feeling a bit down, but watching them is like looking at a train wreck – they exert a certain fascination. HBO Max’s The Last Cruise is the story of – what else? – The Diamond Princess. That’s the ship on which there was an outbreak of the coronavirus early in 2020 when almost nothing was known about the virus and the thousands of passengers and crew were quarantined aboard the ship for weeks. The virus spread like wildfire; about 700 were infected and 14 died.
Now that in so many ways we have learned to live with the virus, this documentary will take you back to the early, scary days when it seemed that this might be the beginning of the end. This short, very effective film by Hannah Olson uses video diaries that passengers and crew made during quarantine to show their experiences in real time. As the crew members talk about the lack of protection for them and their squalid working conditions, they raise issues that many aspects of the virus have brought up about gaps between the haves and have-nots. It’s also an interesting portrait of the kinds of people who take cruises and who work on them. There were Israelis on the cruise but they are not featured in the film. The Last Cruise is showing on Cellcom TV, Yes VOD and Sting TV starting on March 31 and Yes Docu on April 5 at 9:20 p.m.
On a smaller scale, the Netflix documentary, Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal, is also disturbing, because it shows how the rich game the system over and over without breaking a sweat. This is a docu-drama, with some news clips and interviews mixed with long dramatizations, starring Matthew Modine as the college admissions coach Rick Singer, who ran the money-for-admissions scams. The film is based on transcripts of conversations that were the basis for the court case against various participants in the scam.
When this scandal first broke, I remember thinking: Why didn’t these parents spend half a million dollars on tutoring instead of having their children recruited as athletes for sports they had never played and getting adults to take their tests? But when I saw this, I understood: You can’t just start tutoring a 17-year-old who has never studied in his or her life and really make a difference, you have to begin decades earlier, of course. It was odd to see how these high-achieving parents did not ever seem to have taken the most basic parenting steps, but just assumed that their checkbooks could make up for years of scholastic — and personal — neglect.
While you may know the details of the scandal, watching it play out is pretty appalling. One mother who casually refers to her daughter as “stupid” several times is especially unpleasant. But the great pleasure of this film is the moral superiority you will feel if you have ever made your kids do their homework or study for a test.
If you’re looking for something light and fun, try the movie Heartbeats on Hot Cinema 4 on April 1 at 10 p.m. and on Hot Cinematime starting on April 4. It’s the story of a young woman who travels to India with her family for a wedding and falls in love with a special style of hip-hop dancing there, and with a dancer. No cliche is spared, but that doesn’t mean this movie won’t be fun for dance lovers. It’s sort of Step Up meets Dirty Dancing meets Slumdog Millionaire.