Invisible City review – folklore meets conservationism in an intriging new genre blend environmental storytelling

February 5, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix, TV Reviews
3.5

Summary

Invisible City is part crime thriller, part environmental conservation drama, and part folkloric fantasy, making for an unusual, engaging blend.

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3.5

Summary

Invisible City is part crime thriller, part environmental conservation drama, and part folkloric fantasy, making for an unusual, engaging blend.

This review of Invisible City Season 1 is spoiler-free.


There’s more at stake than just lives in Netflix’s new Brazilian original series Invisible City. Steeped in native folklore and culture, what begins as an investigation into a forest fire and a murder becomes, across seven binge-able episodes, a fantastical journey through myth, evoking the colorful surrealism of American Gods as much as any of the Big N’s more grounded international dramas. Well acted and sure of itself, and bolstered by decent visual effects and cinematography, a slight designed-by-committee feeling — there are nine credited screenwriters — is mostly overcome by the enthusiasm and local flavor. On a light streaming weekend, this might be the highlight.

Fulfilling the usual tortured protagonist duties is Eric (Marco Pigossi), an investigator in the Environmental Police who is pulled into a conspiracy when his anthropologist wife Gabriela (Julia Konrad) is tragically killed in a forest fire that just might have been started intentionally by a construction company trying to displace the locals so they can buy up the land. But Gabi’s death is suspicious for reasons beyond that, and once the fish start dying, a river dolphin turns up on the beach, and another local, Manaus (Victor Sparapane), meets an even more mysterious end, Eric quickly realizes that there is something much more afoot than a simple murder-mystery — and it might even involve the modern-day versions of deities plucked from Brazilian folklore.

The primary conflict here is unsubtle, a battle between the march of modernity and the preservation of tradition, made literal by the presence of old gods and new influences. But it’s an interesting hook to build a mystery around, and it becomes obvious quickly that neither Eric nor the deities know quite what is going on. The early episodes are by no means shy about getting weird, and there are no attempts at ambiguity to suggest that it might all be in a grieving man’s head. Invisible City Season 1 positions itself quickly as an unashamedly fantastical show, and it’s better for it, immediately raising countless questions about where it all might lead before the end.

That stuff will be addressed elsewhere (we’re, as usual, recapping every episode), but suffice it to say that with lean episode runtimes and a compelling blend of genres, there’s enough here to pull an audience through the mystery at quite a clip.

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