Series review: ZeroZeroZero (Episodes 1 & 2)
- VENICE 2019: The Sky Studios original series created by Stefano Sollima and based upon the homonymous book by Roberto Saviano will debut on Sky and Amazon Prime Video in 2020
Gabriel Byrne lies injured on the ground beneath a shower of glass and bullets. It’s an impressive beginning for the first episode of the Sky Studios original series ZeroZeroZero, directed by Stefano Sollima. Based upon Roberto Saviano’s book of the same name, the work was screened out of competition in a world premiere and as a Special Event at the Venice International Film Festival.
An international cast, three continents – America, Europe and Africa – six languages and almost a whole year of filming were required for the making of the 8-episode series, which tell the tale of the collaboration and war between the Calabrian Ndrangheta, Mexican cartels and corrupt North American businessmen for the control of trafficking routes “for the most widely distributed merchandise in the world: cocaine". These are the words of Roberto Saviano, who in 2013, following Gomorrah, published the investigative novel on the growth of South American cartels dealing in “white gold”. He is now one of the executive producers of the series and an integral part of the writing team - alongside head writers Leonardo Fasoli (Gomorrah) and Mauricio Katz (The Bridge) – working off the treatment which was produced by Fasoli and Sollima in league with Stefano Bises, Max Hurwitz and Maddalena Ravagli.
The first two episodes, which were directed by Sollima and presented in Venice – the others are directed by Janus Metz (True Detective) and Pablo Trapero (The Clan [+see also:
film profile]) – lay the foundations for a somewhat complex albeit linear plot. The opening images, where we see Gabriel Byrne fall to the ground injured, are a swift precursor to a huge scene which is central to the first episode. Byrne plays Edward Lynwood, an important shipbroker from New Orleans who hides tonne-loads of cocaine in the hundreds of containers he moves between the New Continent and Europe. His favoured phrase in discussions with partners is “what we do keeps the entire worldwide economy afloat”. His right-hand woman is his greedy and determined daughter Emma, played by Andrea Riseborough, who also played the wicked architect-assassin in one of the darkest episodes of Black Mirror, season 4. The destiny of her younger brother Chris (Dane DeHaan) is sealed as a result of Huntington’s disease, a condition which already killed his mother. This makes it easier for Emma to step into her father’s shoes and she has no qualms about doing so. While the Lynwoods are manoeuvring to cover up the hole created by the Calabrian mafia’s failure to pay for an enormous cocaine consignment, a family feud is breaking out in the Italian Aspromonte mountains over the control of cocaine trafficking routes. Stefano La Piana (Giuseppe De Domenico, a young actor and one to watch), the grandson of mafia boss Don Minu (Adriamo Chiaramida), is looking to pull the wool over the eyes of his fugitive grandpa - who is now coming back into the game in a big way – and to spirit away the money which is intended for the Americans in order to put his forebear in a difficult spot. Meanwhile, on a third narrative level, there’s the Mexican army’s specialised anti-drug-trafficking unit, which interrupts a summit between the Mexican and Lynwood cartels. However, this operation aimed at arresting all involved is doomed to go up in smoke because somewhere among the soldiers there lies an enemy mole…
ZeroZeroZero was produced off the back of an increase in investments in original Sky productions, as announced during the recent launch of Sky Studios, the new pan-European production and development house. The series is produced by Cattleya (part of ITV Studios) and Bartlebyfilm, and is expected to debut in 2020. It will be shown on Sky in Italy, the UK, Ireland, Germany and Austria; on Canal+ in France and in European and African French-speaking countries; and on Amazon Prime Video in the USA, Canada, Latin America and Spain. Studiocanal TV are in charge of international distribution.
(Translated from Italian)
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