Christian, on the Topic channel, is an excellent series that, on paper, shouldn’t work as well as it does. I mean, the stigmata? Healing hands? Thug with a heart of gold? Sounds completely hokey. But it’s not. In fact, it’s the opposite of hokey. Christian takes place in a huge, rough building outside of Rome that probably has its own zip code. Lino (Giordano de Plano) is the local crook who does some loan-sharking and shakes down local businesses. His brother, Christian (Edoardo Pesce), is his muscle. One day, the stigmata (the wounds of crucified Jesus) appear on his hands, and he is unable to do Lino’s bidding. Furthermore, he brings his overdosed neighbor back to life just by touching her. Christian tries to deny this “miracle” and go back to work, but it doesn’t go well. Meanwhile, a menacing man named Matteo (Claudio Santamaria), who works for the Vatican, is on his tail.
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Christian is a likable guy, living with his mother (Lina Sastri) who seems to suffer from dementia, although she manages to go to church every day. He doesn’t have too much going on-no ambition, no girlfriend, no education. But he is also loyal, has a sense of humor, isn’t arrogant or cruel, and mostly means well. For example, before he breaks some deadbeat’s arm, he asks if he is right or left-handed, so he can break the less important arm. When Christian’s hands start to bleed for no reason, causing him excruciating pain, he hides them under gloves and continues his work. But things go wrong. For example, he drops a guy off a balcony when he was trying to simply scare him. Lino, who is a crook with a code, is furious. Even after Christian brings his neighbor Rachele (Silvia D’Amico) back to life after she overdoses, he still denies his powers. Rachele tells him that not only is she alive, but she has no desire to shoot heroin anymore. “It’s a miracle!” she says. Christian scoffs, “Miracles don’t happen to people like you and me.” Eventually, he tests his abilities, and sure enough, miracles do happen. But now what? He just wants life to go back to normal.
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Matteo is a postulator for the Vatican. OK, I had to look this up. In the Catholic religion, a postulator is a person who makes a case for someone to be sainted in the Roman Catholic Church. To do so, there are a lot of judicial processes, and the postulator helps the would-be saint to navigate them. When we meet Matteo, he is visiting the home of an elderly couple who have a bogus Jesus statue that weeps blood. Instead of simply reporting back to the Vatican, he rips apart the statue and burns down the apartment. For this, he gets scolded by the Cardinal. It seems that Matteo is very passionate about people not profiting falsely from God. Now Matteo is searching for Christian, who has just been convinced by Rachele to use his powers for money.
Our take on Christian
I really like this show. Think Gomorrah with a miraculous intervention. Christian is gritty, crude, funny, and people behave how you would expect them to-with skepticism and greed. You need a good lead actor to pull this off, and Edoardo Pesce does it. The show is peppered with other colorful characters, like the trans hooker with the cocaine problem, or Christian’s replacement muscle who insists on yelling, “PAM!” (Bang!) every time he hits someone. Throughout the series, there are flashbacks that tell us how we got to this point. Christian is well-written and well produced. I highly recommend it. Each episode is released weekly throughout January on the Topic channel.
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