All the Light We Cannot See is the highly anticipated Netflix adaptation of the Pulitzer-winning namesake novel by author Anthony Doerr. Set during the height of WW2, the series was developed for the small screen by writer Steven Knight and directed by Stranger Things executive producer Sam Levy.
Where can you watch All the Light We Cannot See in the UAE?
All the Light We Cannot See is now streaming on Netflix in the UAE or Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, Netflix does not offer free trials in the UAE or Saudi Arabia, so you’ll have to subscribe for at least one month to watch this. Netflix plans start at AED 29 per month and go up to AED 56.
The four-part miniseries tells its story in a non-linear fashion. It centres around two young people: A blind French girl named Marie-Laure LeBlanc (played by newcomer Aria Mia Loberti) and German soldier Werner Pfennig (played by Dark’s Louis Hofmann).
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When we first meet these two characters, the city of Saint-Malo is under Nazi occupation, while American bombers are raiding it at night. The residents are unable to leave the city because the Nazis locked the gate, so Marie is bravely broadcasting herself on the radio to reach her uncle and her father, both missing in action.
From another side of town, Werner is listening to Marie, who is broadcasting from the same frequency he used to listen to as a child.
Through flashbacks, we learn that when the Nazis invaded Paris, Marie and her father, Daniel LeBlanc (Mark Ruffalo), left Paris and took shelter in the seaside town of Saint-Malo. They moved in with Daniel’s agoraphobic uncle Etienne (Hugh Laurie) and his sister, Madame Manec (Marion Bailey). Due to his PTSD from fighting in the First Great War, Etienne spent most of his time in his attic broadcasting from his radio as part of the French resistance.
Werner was raised in an orphanage with his beloved sister Judda (Luna Wedler). As a boy, he had a passion for radios and would use his skills to listen in on forbidden foreign broadcasts by The Professor, who would teach children about science. His natural ability with the equipment caught the SS’s attention. He was forced into a Nazi school before becoming a soldier who would help locate illegal broadcasts.
There’s also a subplot about a magical diamond said to grant eternal life to its keeper and misfortune to those around him. Daniel stole the stone from the museum he worked at to keep it out of Gestapo reach. Of course, one evil cancer-stricken Nazi, Reinhold von Rumpel (Lars Eidinger), is searching for Marie as he believes the precious stone will make him healthy again. You’ve read that correctly; the Nazi thinks a magical diamond will cure his cancer.
Touching yet flawed
The choice to have all the characters speak English made the series lose its authenticity. All the Light We Cannot See is a very popular book, and Netflix isn’t new to multilingual productions, so it’s hard to see any other reason but laziness for the decision to keep it simple.
Keeping everything in English does make it easier to watch the series as the work of fiction it is. It doesn’t delve into the nuances of the character’s emotional depth. Instead, we get a black-and-white portrayal of good vs. evil on screen. All the Nazis aside from Werner are cartoonish Disney villains, all the French characters are good, and Marie is a beacon of hope and resilience.
However, the series does feature an amazing cast, especially Loberti in the lead role. It’s hard to believe this was her first time appearing on screen. She adds a warmth and comforting presence to her character.
All the Light We Cannot See tells a complex story about resilience in the face of huge adversity. As someone who hasn’t read the book, I found it a compelling war drama with an excellent cast portraying characters you want to root for. The series takes an uplifting, hopeful, and even melodramatic approach to its war story, and as long as you’re willing to suspend disbelief you will probably enjoy streaming this.
What are other critics saying about All the Light We Cannot See (Video Reviews):
Movies and Munchies praised Loberti and described her performances as “captivating.”
Austin Burke enjoyed the series but believes it lacked emotional depth.
Lori C. is an entertainment writer who studied Film and Television at University. She watches and reviews films and series from most genres, but some of her favourites include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, and True Blood.