An Unbelievable True Story
Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Merritt Wever, and Toni Collette
Executive producer: Katie Couric
Content warning: This review includes discussion of rape and sexual assault.
Unbelievable is a true story inspired in a 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning article “An Unbelievable Story of Rape” published by Propublica and the Marshall Project. It details the torment of the 18-year-old woman, Marie Adler, who was charged with filing a false report after retracting a claim that she had been sexually assaulted for several hours in her apartment.
The series begins when Adler was forced to recount the attack repeatedly to male police detectives. In the meantime, it recalls that two of Marie’s former foster mothers, with whom she maintained close relationships, also had doubts about her story. One of them even called the lead police detective to share her concern and suggest that the department should not waste its resources on this investigation.
Meanwhile, all the people and institutions she should have been able to trust; police officers, foster carers, the subsidised housing program designed to help young adults transition from the foster-care system into society, and the health practitioners, among others, doubted her honesty and her mental stability. As she was forced to repeat what happened several times while dealing with post-traumatic stress, she narrated minor inconsistencies every time, troubling all enough to suggest she made the whole thing up.
As she started feeling isolated and judged, she even doubted herself and decided to retract, convincing herself that the rape might just have been a bad dream.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
A while after recanting her story, two female detectives, played by Merritt Wever and Toni Collette, follow evidence that could reveal the truth; while investigating a serial rapist that was terrorising their respective jurisdictions, the detectives ultimately merge their investigations, which takes place a long way away from where the same rapist had attacked Marie in Washington, but ultimately lead to them saving Marie, and acknowledging her suffering while society and her “support group” turn their back to her.
Without even knowing Marie, they brought light and strength to Marie’s life who ultimately found peace of mind and a way to draw a new future in her life.
For help contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114, or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636, or the Victims of Crime Helpline 1800 819 817. For young people aged up to 25: Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 https://kidshelpline.com.au/