Sleek, succinct, and seemingly perfectly up to date, Chief Detective Elena Zonin has secrets. For two decades, she escaped from her hometown of Venice to establish her career as a crime-hunter in the bustling capital of Rome.
Zonin is an expert in cybercrime and crimes against minors. His particular specialty is investigating children who have gone missing. So when the body of a boy – Gilberto – is found in the waterways of Venice, Zonin is called in to investigate what happened.
Even as Zonin moves forward with the case and Gilberto’s story unfolds through the clues, there is an emerging threat to the life of a boy, not unlike Gilberto, in Treviso. Angelo is engaged in an online conversation via his cell phone, though the girl he thinks he’s befriending may turn out to be bait. Time is running out: Will Zonin find Gilberto’s killers in time to prevent Angelo’s disappearance?
Behind the new series Do not leave me are the same maestros of Italian crime drama who created the darkly addictive Gomorrah, zero zero zero and Incastrate, namely Leonardo Fasoli and Maddalena Ravagli. The writing is both clever and intuitive, never trying to outsmart the audience but, thankfully, not dumbing down the intricacies of the socio-political roots that allowed monster networks to thrive beneath the photogenic tourist hotspots of Venice and from Rome.
For fans of Italian fiction and non-fiction, the chiaroscuro contrast of shadow and illumination, violence and ecstasy will be a familiar palette. Fans of crime writers Donna Leon, Andrea Camilleri and Mario Puzo will find the thrilling and savage aspects of human nature and the elegant, romantic and dedicated detectives appealingly reminiscent of their beloved fictional heroes (and anti-heroes) .
Readers, like me, who love and fear both the haunting journalism and melancholic stories of the Italian working class written by author Anna Maria Ortese (and later, Oriana Fallaci) will find the uncovering of truth and violence in a historically beautiful and doomed city. intellectual and emotional support well beyond each episode.
It’s an Italian series, so of course there’s food, sex and fashion. This is not a tourist advertisement, nor Italian voguethough Zonin is subtly glamorous, and Venice’s gothic beauty is darkly delightful, however murderous its depths.
Venice promises professional and personal battles for Zonin (Vittoria Puccini). Being drawn to the landscape of her youth is more trying than she anticipated, not least due to the presence of her ex-lover Daniele Vianello (Alessandro Roja), who is responsible for the homicides.
It’s not just the crimes in this series that are complex. Daniele is married to Zonin’s best friend, Giulia (Sarah Felderbaum), and there’s been a tangible, uneasy thrill between the three since their first meeting. As soap opera as it sounds, across all eight episodes it eschews soapy melodrama, thanks in large part to Fasoli and Ravagli’s outstanding, mature writing and demanding cast of established television actors.
While Roja has starred in everything from crime and family drama to music videos, Puccini rose to fame for her role in historical drama. Elisa de Rivombrosabefore establishing a career in Italian crime dramas in film and television, including The fugitive.
In Do not leave me, Puccini approached the story of a completely different nature. A story that merges with the present in the most sober way. Migrants, expatriates, drugs and human trafficking, organized crime and cartels are no secret in Italy, or in Europe more generally. However, the ease of access to social media has only exacerbated the pathways of crime and abuse in recent years.
According to the Italian news agency ANSA, 30 minors disappear every day in Italy, two-thirds of whom are foreign nationals. At the end of May, on International Missing Children’s Day, the Italian government announced that 3,589 children had disappeared in Italy this year alone.
Save The Children Italy reported 2,040 casualties of trafficking last year, with more than a third being minors (mainly women). That is, they report in ‘Little Invisible Slaves’, more than triple the number of 15 years ago.
As we discover from the first episode, children and adults are entangled in deceptive relationships on social media that, far from being pure online banter, are malicious and strategic in nature. Do not leave me is not easy on the eyes, nor forgettable and sweetly superficial.
It’s a gritty, intellectual and emotional thriller informed by truth, and in a world full of distractions, acknowledging truths is key to addressing them internationally. Pull back the veil and embrace the complex shadow play between humans, cities and the endless slide of the digital universe into daily life.
Do not leave me is now streaming on SBS On Demand.