‘Illuminadas’: Wagner Moura shines in a series about misogyny in the 1990s

If remakes and the wave of nostalgia have been some of the drivers of pop culture, “Illuminadas” manages to pay homage to the popular thriller and serial killer films in the 1990s. Based on the book of the same name by Lauren Beukes, the original Apple TV+ production has a engaged cast to tell a story of misogyny and journalistic investigation.

Created by Silka Luisa, the series follows the journey of Kirby (Elisabeth Moss), a journalist with a promising future whose life is turned upside down after being attacked by Harper (Jamie Bell). Unlike other victims, the protagonist survives and decides to hunt down the tormentor. As she investigates, she realizes that there is a much bigger conspiracy than she realizes and enlists the help of another journalist, Dan Velásquez (Wagner Moura), to unravel her and other women’s case.

A 90’s Puzzle

To tell this story, we have a series of elements that complement each other and make the story a great puzzle to unravel together with Kirby. Suspense, mystery and time travel hook us with each episode making the gears that move the plot attractive and full of questions. Luisa leads the narrative as if she were moving us into investigative films from the 90s. “Se7en” the “The Bone Collector”; the coloring, the scenography and the mystery remind us of this type of production.

“Iluminadas” takes place between 1920 and the beginning of the 1990s, which, in a way, justifies the inspiration in such films. The photograph signed by Bonnie Elliot (“State Zero”) and Robert McLachlan (“Lovecraft Country”) emulates the darkness and danger Chicago could offer an independent woman watched by a maniac. The tripod camera shots, dark images and visual rhymes between Kirby, the other victims and Happer take us inside a Supercine session run by women.

feminine details

Elisabeth Moss signs two episodes together with Daina Reid (“The Handmaid’s Tale“) and Michelle MacLaren (the only woman to direct episodes of “Game of Thrones”) who take turns directing throughout the season. The massive female presence is a symptomatic factor to tell a narrative about women and the misogyny that plagues us. “Iluminadas” exposes the silencing imposed on victims of violence against women and the traumas that this type of situation presents. The direction is precise in showing all of this through visual details. Be it the change in haircut, the position of a mug or even the existence of a pet; everything generates curiosity and questions that keep the viewer attentive.

As Kirby’s journey becomes clearer, the show acquires layers that elevate it to the level of other well-crafted mysteries in recent years such as “Westworld” and “dark”. Just like the German series, everything is connected and, as the pieces complement each other, our questions find answers, which lead to bigger questions.

list of millions

One of the biggest successes of “Iluminadas”, however, is its cast. Elisabeth Moss, once again, shines and shows why she is one of the most popular actresses on television. Her Kirby often reminds her of the detective she plays in “Top of the Lake” aligned with the anguish of someone who is out of his time and trapped in the traumas caused by misogyny. Meanwhile, Jamie Bell has a terrifying presence, managing to impose fear despite his few words. However, who steals the show is Wagner Moura.

The Bahian actor brings a bit of Brazilian swagger to his character through the shirts of “Os Mutantes” and the dialogues in Portuguese with his son. What stands out, however, is the sensitivity that her persona carries, managing to offer Kirby the confidence she needs. Multifaceted, the journalist also raises discussions around journalistic integrity and ethics, in addition to the problem of alcoholism and the mission of taking care of his teenage son alone. It is a pity, precisely because of this enriching look brought to the plot, that its ending leaves a bittersweet taste for a production with many more hits than mistakes.

“Iluminadas” is a production full of twists and dualities. The intriguing mystery, the well-constructed and interpreted characters and the technical female gaze make the narrative addictive. All this also points to the quality of the series productions on Apple TV +, it seems that HBO finally has a competitor to match.

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