Review Invisible City By Marco Pigossi
After the older of the two men gets a flaming spear in the back, the younger of the two sees the “fire person”. Then we flash to the present, where an older man named Ciço (José Dumont) is telling a group of kids, including a little girl named Luna (Manuela Dieguez) about a mythical creature called a Curupira, who protects the forest’s creatures.
Luna is at a June festival in Toré Village with her mother Gabriela (Julia Konrad). She’s an activist who has been trying to keep the fishing village from the clutches of developers. Gabriela wishes her husband, Eric (Marco Pigossi) was there, but he’s working on his latest case as a member of the Environmental Police in Rio de Janeiro.
There’s a fire in the woods, which Luna walks towards. When everyone’s alerted to it, Gabriela runs in to rescue her. Eric is called in and finds Luna, but is devastated to see that Gabriela died trying to rescue their daughter.
A month later, Eric goes back to work. His captain, Ivo (Rafael Sieg), tells Eric the case was closed, with the fire being deemed an accident. He goes home early, but has to deal with Luna, who is still in deep grief over her mother’s death. He contacts a number that his partner Marcia (Áurea Maranhão) has said has been looking for him. He takes Luna out late at night to meet the person, but he just sees a homeless guy on the beach.
He has a nightmare about running in the woods and a fresh-water dolphin. As he jogs next to the beach the next morning, he sees a group of people surrounding a pink freshwater dolphin. When Eric goes over there, they disappear. In the city, we see one of them, Camila (Jéssica Córes), report to a woman named Inês (Alessandra Negrini) that they weren’t able to rescue their dying friend.
Eric sticks the dolphin in the back of his truck while he and Marcia investigate a report of dying fish at Toré Village. He finds Ciço, who talked to other townspeople about the notion of a curse on the village. He ends up having to bring the dolphin home and keep it overnight; there, a one-legged teenage boy named Isac (Wesley Guimarães) tries to get into the truck to get the dolphin. At a certain point, Eric looks into the truck and sees that the dolphin has morphed into a person, one that looks very familiar.
Our Take: The showrunner of Invisible City (original title: Cidade Invisível) is Carlos Saldanha, who is better known for directing kid-friendly animated features like Rio and Ice Age. This is his first adult, live-action effort, and he has a good handle on creating a world with some mystery. In the first episode, he holds his cards close to the vest; we meet all the mythical beings that Eric will eventually start to work with to get to the bottom of his wife’s death. But we don’t get to know them very well, and that’s exceedingly frustrating.
The show suffers from the same thing a lot of streaming shows suffer from: The notion that the show is more like a 7-part movie than a series. Saldanha and writer Mirna Nogueira don’t feel the need to show what people like Camila and Inês can do, and does so quite on purpose. In the scene where Camila comes to visit Inês, for instance, we see closeups that make it seem like Inês is making some sort of potion. In reality, though, she’s just making herself a cup of espresso.
We know that these people are the stuff of legends, and have their own powers. But we see so little of it in the first episode, we’re left with a story about Eric trying to figure out what to do about that dolphin. Yes, we don’t want to be spoon-fed, but the first episode gives us so little to latch onto that it doesn’t make us super eager to go to the second one.
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Hopefully, we’ll find out more about Gabriela’s work, why these mythical creatures have come out of hiding and how the two events are related. The performances in the first episode help us connect to Eric and Luna’s pain, but that’s not enough to keep us watching if the fantasy aspect of the show is doled out in tiny amounts.