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The Secret of the Greco Family Series Review: Truth is stranger than fiction, darker too- Cinema express

The Secret of the Greco Family Series Review: Truth is stranger than fiction, darker too

The dark miniseries sheds light on the sway one figure may have over others by sheer force of personality. When this figure is a family head, things get entangled in complication.

Published: 06th November 2022

A joint production between Mexico and Argentina, The Secret of the Greco Family (El Secreto de la Familia Greco) is an adaptation of the 2015 true crime Argentinian miniseries, Historia de un clan. While the latter is based on the Puccio family, its Mexican counterpart takes us deep into the warped world of the Grecos. The remake stays mostly true to the original, with events set in Mexico of the 1980s. Control, manipulation and loyalty lie at the heart of this fairly engaging crime drama. Aquiles Greco (Fernando Colunga) is the patriarch. His twisted motivations are projected onto his kith and kin in the guise of love. The women of the household (wife Marta, older daughter Sabrina and teenage daughter Abril) are kept in the dark about the scheming taking place between the father and sons upstairs. Andrés (Manuel Masalva) is the star kid of the Greco home, a promising professional Polo career ahead of him. His brother Dario (Alejandro de Hoyos Parera) has returned from his nomadic lifestyle abroad on their father’s insistence. Add two of Aquiles’ former criminals-turned-informants (from his hallowed police days) to the mix and the circle is complete. The groundwork for the man’s devious master plan is being laid. Everything hinges on Andrés’ proximity to the high-society rich boys he rubs shoulders with. 

Director – Alejandro Ciancio   
Cast – Fernando Colunga, Manuel Masalva, Alejandro de Hoyos Parera, Lisa Owen, Roberta Damián, Samantha Siqueiros, Rafael Ferro, Luis Machín
Streaming On – Netflix 

One thing Aquiles loves as much as control is speaking, and being listened to uninterrupted. This becomes apparent when he sermonises his philosophy to his boys and middle-aged associates. There’s a higher purpose for their actions, supposedly. With his business going under, his main motivation is presumably the money; money that will allow the family to continue with their current lifestyle. But instead of being honest about it, he manipulates them into believing that this will lead to the balancing of social scales. The targeted business owners have remained rich owing to the widespread exploitation of their workers, so an act of kidnapping their kin will teach them a lesson in equality, in humility. Aquiles goes as far as to call their group the National Liberation Cell in the ransom calls. Dario and the associates fall in line but it sits heavily on Andrés’ conscience. Any form of dissent is met with threats, coercion and psychological bullying.

The dark miniseries sheds light on the sway one figure may have over others by sheer force of personality. When this figure is a family head, things get entangled in complication. The associates are guilt-tripped into coming around to his way of thinking. They wouldn’t be here today had it not been for Aquiles’ boundless generosity during the police years; he’s quick to remind the trash-talking duo of as much. No one is completely convinced of the man’s outlandish and risky plan but they go along with it, regardless. Sustained focus is accorded to Aquiles’ unnecessary philosophising as the camera pans to his glazed, thousand-yard stare and gritting of teeth. The social justice spiel get stale, and fast. Fernando Colunga’s primary lead character is written too one-dimensionally for my liking. Aquiles’ attempt at being this evil genius manipulator lacks nuance for the most part. Other leads like Andrés and Marta (Lisa Owen) and a handful of supporting acts in Hugo, Lozano, Abril and Sabrina follow more credible character arcs.

There are bizarre moments that intertwine themselves throughout the miniseries. Abril (Roberta Damián) glides through the hallways on her roller skates listening to strange sounds dissipate from the walls, and yet, she continues on her merry way. A growing fascination between the middle-aged Lozano and Abril is another Lolita-esque plot point that falls into the said category. 

In the mess Aquiles creates, keeping his kids and associates emotionally blackmailed at all times, it is Andrés you feel for. Dario is easily influenced and Lozano and Reyes are seasoned criminals in it for themselves; Andrés’ guilt denotes he isn’t okay with what’s going on. He wants outs but his father’s vice-like hold is too strong to shake off. Marta is another character your heart goes out to. Aquiles’ double life means that he’s a “loving” family man at the dining table and a deranged sociopath beyond it. She avoids entertaining the possibility of the latter out of fear. A fear that deepens when her best friend goes missing from their home one day.

Alejandro Ciancio draws a portrait of a family on the precipice…being led over the edge thanks to one man’s narcissism. The lead character’s real motivations aren’t made completely clear but bitterness surrounding his premature retirement seems like the most plausible explanation. This is Aquiles’ twisted form of revenge upon the unfair world, a world he has come to loathe. No matter what he claims in his innumerable, theatrical soliloquys, he’s doing this for himself. His family is mere collateral damage.

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