This portrait of how rape affects otherwise happy lives like some kind of metastasizing emotional cancer is powerful, singular, and indelible. When we first meet Arabella, she's lingering on a sidewalk waiting for her ride share to pick her up, hinting around to her Italian boyfriend that she's love for him to make some sort of committment before she leaves for her flight. He doesn't; she accepts the blow straight-faced and immediately opens her computer, to work. We see her go home, deal with her editors, leave to meet friends at a bar where she dances and drinks until she stumbles out of the bar and into the street. Cut to the next morning; she's at her publishing house, working on her book again. Whew, looks like everything turned out fine. But then we see her phone is cracked. There's blood on her shirt. And hang on -- is that a cut on her head that's trickling fresh blood down her cheek?
The truth comes to her in brief, devastating flashbacks; in between, Arabella tries to go on living her easy, breezy life unaffected. Spoiler alert: It doesn't work. She takes solace in her friends, especially Kwame (Paapa Essiedu), a gay fitness instructor who's linked to Arabella by their shared history of sexual trauma, and in her work, where she's able to find some measure of control in writing about her experiences. It should be said that Michaela Coel, the award-winning actor who wrote and stars as Arabella in I May Destroy You, has been open about the fact that in 2016 she took a break from work to go to a bar with a friend, then woke up hours later at the office, unsure how she'd gotten there and what had happened. Later she pieced together that her drink had been spiked, and she'd been sexually assaulted. Does this give I May Destroy You a meta depth and power? It sure does. Is it simultaneously devastating and beautiful? It sure is. Should you watch? Yes.