Dom is the first Brazilian scripted original from Amazon Prime Video. The crime drama is inspired by a true story and follows a father named Victor (Flavio Tolezani), who has devoted most of his adult life to the war on drugs. Witnessing firsthand the irreparable harm the war has caused so many, he is quick to act when his son, Pedro (Gabriel Leone), begins using. Pedro wrestles with disappointing his family while finding ways to fuel his addiction. His pursuit of wealth eventually leads him to becoming one of Rio’s biggest criminals.
Despite the prevalence of crime and the drug trade, at the heart of the series is an engaging look at the complicated relationship between a father and his child. Both Leone and Tolezani portray their flawed characters with enough heart and compassion that Victor and Pedro grow on you. They might not always make the right decisions, but their intentions are always coming from a good place.
Through the two leads, and the rest of the family, Dom also highlights the destructive nature of addiction on not only the individual but those closest to them. Pedro’s experiences show the hopeless and long running cycle of sobriety and influence many can’t escape resulting in an emotional rollercoaster. Although it’s interesting to see how Pedro, considered a screw up most of his life, finds crime is one of the few things he can focus on and is adept at. Particularly considering his privileged upbringing.
Leone really shines in his role hitting many of the serious emotional beats during the family drama. However, he can also cut loose as Pedro embraces his criminal Dom alter ego. It’s an indulgent life of parties, drugs, and women and you can see the actor having a good time exploring that aspect of the character. It can be a careful balancing act believably executing both sides of Pedro but Leone does it well.
The show uses several different timelines at various stages of Pedro and Victor’s life. It shows how they became involved in drugs from their respective sides. Sometimes, their narratives are shown in parallel demonstrating that even though they’re on opposite sides, their paths and personalities are more similar than they know. One of their main driving forces is typical youth rebellion against their parents.
The use of multiple time periods sheds some light on the social and political issues Brazil has experienced in the different eras and compares and contrasts the changes through the years. Dom occupies the gray area between criminal and police highlighting the positive and negative of both sides.
Fábio Lago’s Ribiero is the crime lord Victor first works for when undercover. The actor imbues his character with charisma making him a Stringer Bell type from The Wire who is equal parts gangster and businessman. The relationship between Ribiero and Victor is built up well with the latter finding the father figure he wanted in the former.
At times, Dom can feel a bit outlandish. Although it’s supposed to show the great lengths parents will go to save their child, some of Victor’s methods can be too much to believe. From the opening scene to his ways of scaring Pedro straight, they give different meanings to helicopter parenting and tough love. While not parenting related, the means some of Pedro’s crew use to distract the cops can be demeaning and sexist even if it’s for comedic effect.
The series also introduces subplots with no pay off or conclusion resulting in some. Maybe bigger picture, it’s to show that these things happen or are present in the war on drugs but it does contribute a little to the disappointment of some unresolved parts.
Overall, Dom is a captivating Brazilian tale addressing some of the social and political problems of the country while incorporating universal themes of family.
Don’t forget to check out our interview with show runner, Breno Silveira, and stars, Flávio Tolezani and Gabriel Leone.
Watch Dom on Amazon Prime Video.
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