Immediate disclaimer: Good Morning, Verônica is definitely not for the faint-hearted; it took me several snatches of turning off audio — so I could get away from the ominous background music that catches up creepily right before startling (and very grim) revelations — to binge on it over last weekend. It unravels with deadly chessboard precision, and once you are in the game, it’s tough to tear away from it despite the underlying horror.
I decided to give it a shot after I got a glowing review from a friend who said it terrified him; reading up on it, I discovered this series — with terrific English subtitling — had released towards the end of last year, and its second season is poised for an opening shortly.
Verônica Torres (the very talented Tainá Müller) is an efficient — and empathic — file-pushing clerical official, labouring under the weight of personal tragedy, who tailspins into a case, which, in turn, gives way to another lead: a series of possible killings by a man called Claúdio Brandão (played disturbingly well by Eduardo Moscovis), who’s a military police officer with friends in high places. The action is set in São Paulo, a city riddled with crime and corruption — one covering the other — and where law enforcement is both compromised and ineffectual.
Claúdio commits monstrosities with the help of his girlfriend Janete (a brilliant Camila Morgado), who has been gaslit and abused to a point where she believes everything happening around her is her fault. Even as Verônica realises that the only way to get to the bottom of the investigation would be to get Janete out of the mental mire her husband has trapped her into, she battles the system to get headway: everyone in the value chain, including her boss, the homicide department chief who’s like a godfather to her, is keen she give the matter a pass because “very important people” are invested in it.
Verônica battles her own demons, grapples with family life (her husband is a white-collar professional, steadily climbing up the corporate ladder, who cannot fathom why she would want to endanger her life by taking on the system and thrusting herself into a role that is beyond her official ‘brief’), and begins to live and breathe the case in a way that becomes almost morbid, yet wonderfully liberating because she’s fighting the good fight. The only person on her side is the police station’s IT whiz Nelson (Silvio Guindane) who’s probably in love with her.
Like The Fall, Good Morning, Verônica is not a whodunit: you know who the “killer” is from the get-go — but you don’t realise the staggering extent of his misogynistic derangement, which is exposed layer by layer. Other than the workings of a dangerous mind, this is also a telling commentary on crime(s) against women and domestic violence. Each episode ends with a message: if any woman is a victim of abuse, she should reach out to a helpline.
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