Italian crime drama Don’t Leave Me is gilded in Gothic beauty even as it plunges into deep waters

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Stylish, concise, and seemingly perfectly poised, Detective Chief Elena Zonin has secrets. For two decades she fled her hometown of Venice to establish her career as a crime hunter in the bustling capital of Rome.

Zonin is a cybercrime and juvenile delinquency expert. Her particular specialty is the investigation of missing children. When the body of a boy – Gilberto – is found in Venice’s waterways, Zonin is called in to investigate what happened.

As Zonin makes progress on the case and Gilberto’s story unravels from the clues, a threat looms in the life of a boy not so different from Gilberto in Treviso. Angelo is caught up in an online chat over his cell phone, although the young girl he thinks he’s developing a friendship with may prove to be bait. The clock is ticking: will Zonin track down Gilberto’s killer in time to stop Angelo’s disappearance?

Behind new series do not leave me are the same Italian crime drama maestros who created the addictive gritty Gomorrah, zero zero zero and incastrati, namely Leonardo Fasoli and Maddalena Ravagli. The writing is both intelligent and intuitive, never trying to outsmart the audience, but mercifully it doesn’t dull the complexities of the socio-political roots that have allowed networks of monsters to thrive among the photogenic tourist meccas of Venice and Rome.

For lovers of Italian fiction and non-fiction, the chiaroscuro of shadow and light, violence and ecstasy will be a familiar palette. Fans of crime writers Donna Leon, Andrea Camilleri, and Mario Puzo will find the suspenseful, wild aspects of human nature and the stylish, romantic, and devoted detectives appealingly reminiscent of their beloved fictional heroes (and anti-heroes).

Readers like me who both revere and fear the haunting journalism and melancholy tales of the Italian working class written by author Anna Maria Ortese (and later Oriana Fallaci) will enjoy exposing truth and violence in a historically beautiful, doomed city find spiritual and emotional sustenance far beyond each episode.

This is an Italian series, so of course there’s food, sex and fashion. It’s not tourist advertising and it’s not Italian either Fashionthough Zonin is subtly glamorous and the Gothic beauty of Venice is darkly delicious, however deadly its depths.

Venice promises both professional and personal struggles for Zonin (Vittoria Puccini). Being drawn back into the landscape of her youth is more confronting than she expected, not least because of the presence of her ex-lover Daniele Vianello (Alessandro Roja), head of the homicide squad.

Not only the crimes in this series are complex. Daniele has married Zonin’s best friend Giulia (Sarah Felderbaum), and a palpable, uneasy shiver has run between the three since their first reunion. As soapy as that sounds, it avoids soapy melodrama throughout the eight episodes, thanks in no small part to Fasoli and Ravagli’s exceptional, mature writing and demanding cast of established television actors.

While Roja has appeared in everything from crime and family dramas to music videos, Puccini rose to fame for her roles in historical dramas Elisha of Rivombrosabefore establishing a career in Italian crime dramas in film and television, including The fugitive.

in the do not leave mePuccini took on a story of a very different nature. A story that has merged with the present in the most restrained way. Migrants, expatriates, drug and human trafficking, organized crime and cartels are no secret in Italy or Europe in general. However, easy access to social media has only exacerbated the paths of crime and abuse in recent years.

According to the Italian press agency ANSA, 30 minors go missing in Italy every day, two thirds of whom are foreigners. At the end of May, on the International Day of Missing Children, the Italian government announced that 3,589 children had disappeared in Italy this year alone.

Save The Children Italy reported 2,040 casualties of human trafficking in the past year, more than a third were (mostly female) minors. That’s, they report in Little Invisible Slaves, more than three times what it was 15 years ago.

As we discover in the first episode, children and adults are embroiled in fraudulent relationships on social media that, far from being purely online dalliances, are malicious and strategic in nature. do not leave me is not easy to watch nor forget and sweetly superficial.

It’s a dark, intellectual and emotional thriller steeped in truth, and in a world full of distractions, acknowledging truths is imperative in order to address them on an international scale. Pull back the veil and embrace the intricate shadow play between people, cities and the endless intrusion of the digital universe into everyday life.

do not leave me is now streaming on SBS On Demand.

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