What is the story about?
In Rio De Janeiro of the 1970s, Victor, a diver by passion, is an undercover recruit hired by a colonel to track a source of drugs making its way to Brazil. Victor has to confront the odd realities of being one with the druglords, witnessing their humane side, living life on the edge. Over the years, he grows to be a cop and fathers two children Pedro and Laura. While Victor is relentlessly trying to keep a lid on the flourishing drug trade in the city, little does he know that his son Pedro would fall prey to it. How far can a father go to rescue his son?
Dom, inspired by true incidents in the life of a Brazilian cop and his drug-addict son has a classical dramatic premise – of a doting father and a son gone astray, on either side of the law and who just can't do without each other. Drifting between the 1970s, the late 90s and the early 2000s, the show chronicles the contrasting journeys of the father and the son, perilously intertwined with the drug mafia. The show is a heady, incestuous cocktail of emotions, drugs, sex, violence and crime and you're gradually sucked into this intoxicating universe.
The filmmakers Vicente Kubrusly and Breno Silveira keep the proceedings achingly real – the violence is raw, messy and so is the graphic sexual activity. The show is unabashed in its portrayal of the self-destructive streaks of a drug addict. It's the father-son relationship that provides an emotional anchor to the story. The non-linear narrative draws an intriguing parallel between their choices. The father-son dynamic in the show vaguely reminds you of another Amazon Prime original (starring Timothee Chalamet), Beautiful Boy, also a real story where a father works against all odds to help his son come clean out of drug addiction. Dom, interestingly, has a father who can go to any length to protect his son but also wants him to own up to his mistakes.
The show dives deep into the lifestyle of the drug lords of the 1970s, coinciding with the rise of the cocaine trade in Brazil. From their superstitions to their families to their quest to help marginalised communities through their earnings, drug dealers appear as human as the other characters. The struggles of an undercover recruit to conceal his identity among them and win their trust make for a compelling watch. Beyond the drug mafia and crime, the show addresses a gamut of issues in breathtaking detail – systemic corruption, feudalistic politics, racial discrimination of the blacks to name a few.
The interpersonal relationships in Dom are its primary strength – you notice the warmth in Lico and Pedro's friendship since their childhood years, you resonate with the plight of a sister who has hardly any childhood but for bearing the brunt of her notorious brother's activities. Despite the love for his son, you see the father being tired of rescuing him time and again. The show is a moving portrayal of the ebbs, the tides and the fragility of human behaviour. The dark humour where Pedro and his gang steal from the houses of the rich is weirdly comforting.
Dom is a victory in terms of storytelling and the justice it does to the exhaustive material. However, it isn't an easy series to stomach for obvious reasons. It's overlong, there's almost no light at the end of the tunnel and it doesn't leave you with much hope.
The casting in the show is a delight - not a single actor feels out of place. It goes without saying that Gabriel Leone and Flávio Tolezani are the show stealers as the son and the father. They get terrific character arcs and are a delight to watch during their emotional outbursts and behavioural swings while staying true to the spirit of their characters. Filipe Bragança as the young, naive cop coming to terms with the harsh realities of his profession brings out the vulnerabilities of his character with ease.
Fábio Lago is a perfect choice to play the druglord Ribeiro. He not only has an authoritative screen presence but also adds an element of style, heft and aura to the larger-than-life portrayal. The supporting cast is excellent, to say the least. The likes of Raquel Villar, Mariana Cerrone, Wilson Rabelo and Ramon Francisco get well-written characters with adequate scope for a nuanced performance and they don't disappoint.
Music & Other Departments
Antonio Pinto's background score is trippy and catchy, adding a lot of vigour, style and mood to the show's visual ambience. The cinematography, blending the visual texture of almost three different decades, aided by the excellent production design, captures the transformation of Brazil in different contours in alluring detail. The show is shot so exquisitely that it's hard to blink an eye across the eight episodes. Dom is painfully slow and repetitive initially and the eight-hour length is an indulgence to a certain extent, even though there's enough depth in the material. The writing is layered, top notch and is full of well-developed character arcs.
- The extensive research in the material, the equally compelling execution
- Wonderful performances
- Terrific contributions on the technical front
- Sluggish start
- Goes slightly overboard with the detailing at times
- The eight-hour length
Did I enjoy it?
Do I recommend it?