The Time It Takes Series Review: A bittersweet romantic drama that deserves a second season
This bittersweet show, that shines a light on romantic love and loss and everything in between, has some fine acting and writing
The Spanish romantic drama series, The Time It Takes, cuts to the bone with its presentation of a nine-year-long relationship and its subsequent unravelling. Set in both the present and the past, it focuses on the nuances of the bond between Lina (Nadia de Santiago) and Nico (Álvaro Cervantes) – presenting it in its entirety...why they work so well, and why they drift apart, despite ample opportunities to salvage the situation. The series’ inaugural season has an interesting way of pitting events gone by with those of the present time, thereby allowing the audience to create a complete picture. Episodes are titled, “One Minute in the Present and Ten Minutes in the Past”, “Two Minutes in the Present and Nine Minutes in the Past”, and so on, gradually merging the two aspects of the timeline. In the beginning, the narrative runs in a linear trajectory, with flashbacks and present events overlapping as the show progresses. Another powerful tool used by the creators is the running time of each episode – 12 to 13 minutes from opening to closing credits, with 11 key minutes in between reserved for engaging storytelling. These short, sharp bursts ensure that the Lina-Nico story remains fresh and pared down to the simplest of basics. Such mini-episodes, if I could call them that, keep the focus solely on the protagonists, without making the creators search for other characters to fill in the gaps; apart from one or two minor additions, attention is almost always on the leads. And deliver they do!
Creators / Writers - Nadia de Santiago, Pablo Fernández, Inés Pintor, Pablo Santidrián
Directors – Inés Pintor, Pablo Santidrián, Pablo Fernández
Cast – Nadia de Santiago, Álvaro Cervantes, Carla Linares, Nico Romero
Streaming On – Netflix
Nadia de Santiago (also co-creator/writer) could well be termed the primary lead of the show, as she’s present in the past moments of the relationship as well as the post-break-up phase too. We don’t see how Nico is handling the split at all (this part could well be planned for the next season, which the series thoroughly deserves). What is impressive about The Time It Takes is that it goes high on the subtlety and low on the drama. Yes, there are bad fights and some mini romantic gestures along the way, but much light is thrown on the little things between the two – those that bind them closer and those that succeed in pulling them apart. Nadia searching for an apartment (post-break-up) falls into this category. She quizzes the real estate agent about the flat’s amenities but rejects it outright when she is told that the place doesn’t come with an in-built oven. It is revealed that she needs a place with an oven because it reminds her of the days they used to bake bread together in their place. Her friends aren’t able to understand this and ask her to buy an oven if that’s the case. Nadia refuses, saying that she no longer wishes to discuss the matter. Moving on, despite everything said and done, is hard. This is one of the central themes of the show.
An early scene (set in the “minutes in the past”) presents a telling reminder of how Nico feels about Nadia. They’ve just broken into a water park in the after-hours and are generally exploring the place when the latter says that she wishes to apply for a Nursing course abroad. She mentions a host of places when he asks her where. Nico attempts to accept the information lightly but his awkwardness is palpable (some fine acting on the part of Álvaro Cervantes). Finally, sitting on a slide, overlooking the city’s lights, he says, “I wanted to tell you that...I moved here for you. It’s not that I don’t want you to go, but I looked for a job here to be with you. It didn’t just happen.” Nico pulling away emotionally from Nadia after the death of his father is also handled sensitively and subtly by the creators. What makes it so watchable is that much is implied, yet very little actually stated outright.
The series’ altogether intense nature – there are parts that are also light and fun and endearing, of course – has the writing to thank. The acting isn’t far behind, either. Happy and poignant in equal measure, with enough hope for an unlikely reunion always on the cards, The Time It Takes pays adequate homage to the words in its title. As seen in the couple’s case, getting over a great love does take time for the vast majority. It would have been nice to witness Nico’s side of the post-break-up story too, but that could well be reserved for the next season...a Season 2 that the Spanish show most certainly deserves!