despite its forgettable title, security (netflix) proves to be a well-constructed drama about the secrets people keep and how the guy who wired the entire town to keep the intruders out. learning too much about what goes on inside. In this quaint Italian resort town, lewd behavior comes from inside the house.
security: pass it on or skip it?
the gist: forte dei marmi is a pleasant seaside resort town in northern italy where huts dot the beach along the Tyrrhenian Sea and statues decorate the squares while the deep blue crags of the apuan alps dominate everything. it’s a perfect postcard, and in the voiceover, that’s exactly how roberto (marco d’amore) describes it: like a postcard, it perches forte dei marmi, and it’s actually much messier than its groomed beaches and its virgin squares would make you believe. . Roberto is an expert in security, and his extensive camera and alarm systems protect many of the gated villas that line the main street of the city. “It’s like an invasion: you can’t be too careful,” says one of his wealthy clients, asking Roberto to check out his house. But Roberto knows that the problems take many forms and are not simply a function of rising immigration rates.
one night, a young woman and classmate of angela, roberto’s school-age daughter, is robbed. The Carabinieri single out Maria’s alcoholic father for the crime: he has been violent before and lives with the shame of his assault charge for exposing himself to Angela when she was only seven years old. Meanwhile, Roberto’s wife, Claudia (Maya Sensa), is running for mayor of Forte dei Marmi, and her ambition blinds her to the lewdness that lives just below the city’s idyllic surface. Roberto’s security cameras reveal a larger story surrounding Maria’s assault, with more people involved. People like Curzio Pilati (Fabrizio Bentivoglio), a billionaire and one of Claudia’s campaign’s biggest donors. Not only that, but Maria and Angela’s creative writing teacher, suave boho Stefano (Silvio Muccino), is also involved in the heist. Stefano has an alibi, but it’s problematic: he’s gotten used to sleeping with his students, including Angela.
all this inside knowledge weighs on roberto. he has the proof, but not the power to act. You also have to take into account the optics of Claudia’s campaign for mayor, and the trust that his rich and powerful clients have placed in him to be discreet. Roberto also has incurable insomnia, and occasional hallucinations don’t help him figure out what happened the night of Maria’s assault. As his marriage falls apart and the secrets he keeps become harder to suppress, Roberto discovers that he has become a lonely outsider with the inside scoop and fewer and fewer friendly faces to turn to.
Which movies will it remind you of? While it’s more stylishly directed and enjoys a bigger budget, there’s a lifetime movie DNA tension in safety , movies like Small Town Secrets, or Lovesick: Secrets of a Sex Addict. And don’t forget elite, the great Spanish Netflix series about the shady deeds and lascivious games of the rich in the orbit of an exclusive private school.
Performance Worth Watching: As a kind of james mcavoy in italian, silvio muccino aplombly portrays the dreamboat writing teacher with libido out of control. he’s all band-collared shirts, running his fingers meaningfully through his long hair as he smokes a cigarette in the classroom.
Memorable dialogue: “Don’t make that face,” Claudia tells Roberto angrily. “That face of judging my ambition. this is my only chance. This is my life, and I won’t let you get in the way, not you, not our marriage. Is that clear?” This lady really wants to be mayor.
sex and skin: from stefano’s dates with angela, to late-night bacchanals and rags that happen behind closed doors in the backyards of the wealthy, security certainly it has its share of sex and skin.
our opinion: the clip from claudia’s latest ad campaign exposes the biggest problem she faces. “In a world under threat, a vote for me is a vote for a more secure future!” Claudia, like her wealthy donors, sees the “undesirables” as a threat to the idyll they have built forte dei marmi on: in the shadows of the quiet streets out of season, immigrants lurk; all have learned to lock their doors. but what none of these guardians are willing to notice is how poisonous and dangerous their little world is inside the walls, and under the veneer of signature cocktails and confident smiles at opening ceremonies. it is much easier to blame an unnamed foreign threat than to admit that the damage is much closer to home. For a security expert like Roberto, he is as much a keeper of dark secrets as he is a protector of assets and property. and safety establishes this narrative thread with a deft touch, never portraying outright racism, but instead letting these characters incriminate themselves with the power of euphemism and selective speech.
While circling his suspects and extracting their stories and excuses, security slightly loses sight of the man in the middle and his deteriorating constitution. Roberto’s recurring bouts with hallucinations are intriguing and come as painful sparks shooting between memories and dreams. But we don’t see enough of that, and while Marco D’Amore plays Roberto in a sympathetic and understated way, it might have been more interesting to see him truly unhinged as the small town resort’s indecent behaviors are constantly revealed.
our call: pass it on. directed with a sure hand and offering more than a few notes of sleaze and mystery, security is an interesting look at how people harbor their real truths in the modern age of surveillance.
johnny loftus is a freelance writer and editor based in chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media and Nicki Swift. follow him on twitter: @glennganges
see safety on netflix