Dom Series Review: An addictive series on drugs, violence and fatherhood
More than just the glamour associated with the portrayal of the crime world, Dom strives to be a compelling family drama
As a fan of paradoxes, Amazon Prime Video's latest Brazilian original series, Dom, reminded me of the Irresistible force paradox - a statement that is ironically referenced in several films. "What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object," is that paradox and the series' lead characters, Victor Dantas (Flávio Tolezani) and his son Pedro (Gabriel Leone) are those two entities.
While one is a member of the police and has given his all to keep drugs away from the streets of 1999's Rio de Janeiro, the other, his own blood, has those intoxicants fuelling him as he grows in a shantytown that's riddled with gangs, violence and of course, drugs. Every episode also chronicles the journey of a young Victor (Filipe Bragança) from the 70s, a diver who ends up becoming an informer to the cops and plants himself as a mole, thereby getting the first-person experience on the perils of substance abuse. Dom follows the lives of this father-son duo, who are on the opposite ends of the spectrum of ethics and law.
Cast: Gabriel Leone, Flavio Tolezani, Filipe Bragança, Raquel Villar
Director: Vicente Kubrusly, Breno Silveira
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video's first Brazilian original series wastes no time in introducing us to all the primary characters and their moral standing. With the amount of substance abuse shown on screen, it does make sense that each episode begins with a disclaimer and the website of Narcotics Anonymous. Then, we are told that the series is based on real-life incidents. It's been a while since I saw a theme warning this long that includes everything from violence, sexual content, nudity, foul language, and of course again, substance use. The biggest success of Dom is making its audience closely aware and invested in the lives being portrayed onscreen even with those never-ending statutory warnings.
More than just the glamour associated with the portrayal of the crime world, Dom strives to be a compelling family drama. For every crime Pedro and his associates commit, which is the most exhilarating part of the entire series, there's also an extremely grounded and empathetic attempt of a distressed father trying to hold on to his son like trying to secure water in the palm of his hand. For every sequence that leaves you on a high, pun intended, there's also an emotional payoff. The latter happens through scenes involving childhood buddies-turned-accomplices Pedro and Lico, or Pedro and his sister who, despite all the affection for our titular hero, wants to distance herself for a serene and peaceful life. The conflicts between these relationships are as gratifying as the bigger set pieces that involve the team ransacking the elites of the city.
However, the treatment of secondary characters in Dom leaves a lot to be desired. Despite having the potential to be interestingly developed, they are given a raw deal. Given that the first season is a hefty eight hours long, unidimensional characters don't aid the reality the series endeavours to be. The non-linear narration takes a while to get used to, but the time jumps are a tad bit too frequent to make it a comfortable watch. The series ends with enough leeway for a second season and if it has better developed characters, better dynamics, and has the same earnestness as this season, Dom is definitely an intriguing series worth getting hooked on to.