Rough Diamonds Season 1 Review – A bright crime drama with some rough edges

April 22, 2023 (Last updated: last month)
Jonathon Wilson 4
Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV Reviews
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A saggy middle portion isn’t quite enough to hamstring an otherwise solid crime drama that boasts enough specificity in its setting and cultural nuance to stand out in an oversaturated market.

This review of the Netflix series Rough Diamonds Season 1 does not contain spoilers.

Even at a glance, there’s an element of novelty and specificity to Rough Diamonds on Netflix that definitely benefits it. It explores an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family through the prison of Antwerp, the world’s diamond capital, and across eight episodes weaves a story of family, crime, and culture that is full of detail and nuance.

It’s also a bit slow, but more on that in a minute.

Rough Diamonds review and plot summary

The show’s plot is kick-started by the suicide of the youngest son of the Wolfson family, a tragedy that summons his estranged brother, Noah, back home. Noah left both the country and the orthodoxy for a criminal life abroad, but his responsibilities to the family’s business and legacy begin to supersede his own personal ambitions and the differences he still has with his siblings and culture.

The show’s Israeli creators, Rotem Shamir and Yuval Yefet, have an eye for detail that immerses the viewer in a very specific place, among very specific company, and this nuance provides a captivating backdrop for a well-heeled entertainment genre – especially among streamers like Netflix. Scarcely a week goes by without another international crime drama landing on the platform, and it is perhaps the greatest advantage any of them can possess to stand out in one way or another.

In that sense, Rough Diamonds certainly stands out.

Is Rough Diamonds good or bad?

Among this, though, are much more universally understood themes of family, loss, grief, and trauma; the human relationships at the show’s core at not alien, but deeply felt and easily understood, and the central metaphor of the diamond, a symbol of great beauty and prosperity that is nonetheless backdropped by a gritty and dangerous underworld, is clear in its implications.

Even on a formal level, Rough Diamonds is solid enough, boasting impressive performances and a well-constructed overarching narrative. But it’s also inarguably poorly paced, with a droopy middle portion that it can be difficult to sit through. Judicious editing would have surely made for a better six-episode season than the eight-episode one we get.

Is Rough Diamonds worth watching?

Still, it’s easy to recommend Rough Diamonds for the reasons above; its cultural specificity, nuance, detail, and impressive construction are all points in its favor. It won’t be for everyone, of course, but nothing ever is.

For crime drama fans looking for something distinct, this, I’d argue, is it. Perseverance through the pesky middle stretch will reward a binge-watcher with a lingering payoff that should, at least in most cases and for most people, justify the investment.

What did you think of Rough Diamonds Season 1? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

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4 thoughts on “Rough Diamonds Season 1 Review – A bright crime drama with some rough edges

  • April 25, 2023 at 7:16 am

    Ray Donovan for the Jewish community

  • April 27, 2023 at 7:05 am

    Interesting way learn about an old culture in the modern era. I just like the dang show and the the first episode !!!

  • April 27, 2023 at 8:56 pm

    Enjoyed the story and the rituals.

  • May 4, 2023 at 11:32 am

    i enjooyed the first eoisode watching with subtitles . Th customs are extremely interesting,,,and also learning aout the world of diamonds. I am looking forward to streaming the rest this weekend. the characcrers are well developed and compliment each other in a family balance.

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