The 11 Minute Gap
Series Review: “The Trial”
A driven prosecutor in Northern Italy can’t turn down a murder investigation, even when every ounce of common sense tells her she should.
A new, Italian language legal thriller has recently descended on Netflix, filmed on location in the beautiful city of Mantua, the capital of Lombardy, before the region became known as one of the original hotbeds of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Trial (Il Processo) is a suspenseful, 8-part episodic procedural about an ambitious yet unerringly moral prosecutor named Elena Guerra, an aptly named central figure with a reputation as a warrior for Justice. In a pared down, deeply thoughtful performance by natural beauty, Vittoria Puccini (Kiss Me Again), Elena is a workaholic whose marriage is about to fall apart unless she makes some big changes in her approach to her career and her personal life. Just as she’s about to take a protracted leave of absence from her rigorous job, a murder case crosses her desk that will change the entire course of her life. Angelica Petroni is a beautiful 17 year old whose body is discovered in one of the many canals surrounding the city, but before Elena can hand off the case to her colleague she makes a shocking discovery, one which binds her to the investigation in a way she could never anticipate, nor abandon.
Enter Ruggero Barone, a slick defense attorney whose claim to fame is his single mega-watt celebrity client, whose wife becomes implicated in the murder of Angelica. Francesco Scianna (Mafia Only Kills in Summer) plays Ruggero so convincingly that at several points in the story, one feels an irresistible urge to smack the smirk right off his face. His client, Linda Monaco (played with a wonderfully slippery credibility by Camilla Filippi) has led the kind of entitled life that comes with the territory when your father is one of the richest men in the country. Of course, the Monaco Family’s wealth, power and influence mean nothing to Elena, for whom the uncovering of the truth behind this young victim’s death takes on the most personal mission imaginable.
NOTE: THE SERIES IS PERFECTLY SUB-TITLED IN ENGLISH.
Created by In Treatment‘s Alessandro Fabbri, The Trial is the kind of crime thriller not meant to be dissected for its slight procedural gaps here and there. Nor should it be (perhaps) unfairly skewered for a few gratuitous sex scenes that didn’t move the plot along, with one in particular that looked more like soft porn than titillating adult drama. The series compensated with enough surprise twists and turns, quite excellent performances by its three leads as well as minor characters, and a deeply felt emotional pulse point at the center of the drama. An ingenious device, used for both the Prosecution and the Defense, literally embeds Elena and Ruggero in flashback scenes of the reconstructed events of the murder of Angelica, according to the point of view of each lawyer’s argument. So by the end of the series, we’ve imagined a handful of distinctly believable scenarios. . . although of course only one of them can be the Truth.
In the meantime, we have the visually sumptuous backdrop of a jewel of an Italian city from which to marvel at the complexities of the human heart in its messy need for justice as well as moral justification, or at least a solid alibi. As well, to see how no significant deeds in life ever slip through the net of causality unscathed. And sometimes, just sometimes, Life gives you a Do-Over.
The Trial (Il Processo) is presently streaming on Netflix.
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