42 Days of Darkness, a Chilean series on Netflix, is set in the lake region of southern Chile. The unnamed town is along the water, with the glacier-covered volcano Osorno acting as sentinel. While I’m certain the area is one of the most beautiful in Chile, in 42 Days of Darkness, it’s rainy and fogged in, giving the feeling of oppression and claustrophobia. One day, Verónica Montes (Aline Küppenheim), mother of 2, goes missing. Her sister Cecilia (Claudia Di Girólamo), who lives across the street, becomes suspicious of her mild-mannered brother-in-law, Mario Medina (Daniel Alcaíno), causing a rift between herself and her beloved nieces. Meanwhile, a down-and-out lawyer, Victor Pizarro (Pablo Macaya), sees the disappearance as an opportunity to revive his career.
When Verónica disappears, Mario goes to the local police station to report her as kidnapped, claiming that the kidnapper called him and threatened his wife. As viewers, we see Verónica get into her car, start it, then remember that she left her phone inside. She goes in and the doorbell rings. She answers the door and walks out of the house with an unseen man. When Kari (Julia Lübbert), the teenaged daughter, arrives home to find the car running in the driveway but the house empty, she alerts her aunt Cecilia. Thus begins a frantic manhunt and clumsy police investigation by an inexperienced staff. It becomes clear that Vero, as she is called, was bored living in the upscale yet remote neighborhood, and she wanted to return to work, to the dismay of Kari. So begins the speculation that she ran off with a lover. But Cecilia is not convinced. “She would never leave her girls,” Cecilia asserts.
Victor Pizarro is a classic TV lawyer. Sharp but disgraced by a past infraction, Victor is looking for a way back into real cases. Like Jimmy McGill of Better Call Saul Victor haunts the courthouse, making peanuts on tiny cases with irritating clients. When Victor gets word of a kidnapping, he gets his investigative team back together to build a case. The likable, hard-working and reasonable Nora (Amparo Noguera) and Braulio (Néstor Cantillana) are skeptical about the case, but jump at the chance to ditch their dead-end jobs and get back to investigations. And they do find things. For one, Mario never tried to call his wife on the day of her disappearance. Nor did he check the house. He simply went right to the police station to report her kidnapping. Mario also found a way to weasel out of giving a DNA sample. But is he guilty, or just odd? It’s not enough to convince a judge to issue a warrant, but it is enough to convince Cecilia that she needs Victor to represent her on behalf of her missing sister.
Our Take on 42 Days of Darkness
42 Days of Darkness is as much a family drama as a mystery. As time passes, we see family dynamics emerge. Cecilia, who had a very tight relationship with her sister and nieces, begins to suspect Mario, but Kari accuses of her of “trying to take their father away.” Mario, for his part, steadfastly says…not much. He is sad about his wife’s disappearance, they had a normal marriage, he wants to provide his daughters with some normalcy. When they do discover where Vero is, things get stranger and more tense. Victor, who is obsessed with getting his career back, neglects his teenaged son Joaco (Iván Cáceres), which strains his relationship with his team. With the hemmed-in atmosphere and the meditative pace, some may find 42 Days of Darkness too slow, but I liked it. I’ve never seen a Chilean show, but it reminded me of Wasteland , a no-frills Czech show that I liked. If you are between binges, you may like 42 Days of Darkness.
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