There’s little chance that a series with a talented cast, careful production and attractive premise will go wrong, but “Iluminadas”, AppleTV+ bet with Elisabeth Moss and Wagner Moura, managed to do it.
It’s almost seven hours of a story that relies on good performances and characters at first glance well built to hook over several episodes and then collapses into a hodgepodge of feminist revenge, suspense and elements of supernatural and disappointing science fiction.
There was no lack of warning from those who read the book of the same name by Australian Lauren Beukes, but, because the combo brought praise from the writer Stephen King, the smart production of Leonardo DiCaprio and the delight that is to see Moss, Moura and Jamie Bell (who two decades was the dancing boy in “Billy Elliot”), it was worth taking a chance.
There are interesting elements to Beukes’ plot, adapted by showrunner Silka Luisa.
The protagonist, Kirby Mazrach, suffered a violent attack in which the attacker left her disemboweled for death and now has trouble discerning what is real. Upon learning of a murder with similar characteristics, she, who works in the database of a Chicago newspaper, decides to tell her story to experienced reporter Dan Velazquez (Moura, speaking in English, Spanish and Portuguese).
They will soon discover more victims, an eternally young psychopath and an exceptionally long run.
The intensity that Moss gives to Kirby’s disturbances and the detail with which Moura composes his character, a single father, dependent on alcohol, whose once brilliant career staggers, confer a ballast of respect.
Other cast members — Bell, Philippa Soo (“Hamilton”), Madeline Brewer (who co-starred with Moss in the now classic “The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Chris Chalk (from “The Wicked”) — measure up.
Excessive ambition, however, turns out to be a trap. The clues left over the episodes are returned abruptly.
If the central duo presents layers and nuances, the villain lacks convincing motivation and, as much as Bell makes his torment palpable, he lacks elements to explain it.
The free-style amalgamation of science fiction precepts that other series, such as “Russian Doll,” have masterfully used doesn’t help either. The comparison only diminishes the new series.
Apple presented a masterpiece, “Rupture”, and garnered prestige with excellent (and varied) productions such as “The Morning Show”, “Ted Lasso”, “The Psychiatrist Next Door”, “Pachinko”, “Mosquito Coast”, “Servant”—impressive list given its late entry into this market.
“Illuminated”, however, brings up a lot of great wasted ingredients. Feather.
All eight episodes of “Illuminated” are available to subscribers on AppleTV+
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