Mais um personagem da literatura policial britânica faz sua transição para a televisão.
Criado por Michael Dibdin, o Inspetor italiano Aurélio Zen surgiu na década de 1980.
Na época, Dibdin vivia na Itália, onde era professor de inglês. Com o título de “Ratking”, o primeiro livro ganhou o prêmio Gold Dagger em 1988, de literatura policial.
Ao longo dos anos, Dibdin escreveu um total de 11 livros estrelados por Zen, sendo que o último, “End Games” foi publicado após sua morte, ocorrida em 2007. Segundo o autor em entrevistas na década de 1990, apesar do sucesso que o personagem fez na Inglaterra, não foi bem recebido na Itália. Também pudera, as histórias giram em torno de Zen, um dos poucos policiais honestos trabalhando em Roma. Enfrentando artimanhas políticas, membros da máfia, e um chefe estressado, Zen tenta realizar seu trabalho da melhor forma possível.
Originalmente batizada de “Aurelio Zen”, a adaptação ficou a cargo de Simon Burke. A primeira temporada da série é composta de três episódios de 90 minutos de duração cada. O primeiro, “Vendetta”, foi exibido pela BBC no dia 2 de janeiro. O segundo, “Cabal”, irá ao ar na Inglaterra no dia 9. A temporada encerra com “Ratking”, no dia 16. Cada episódio tem como base um os livros de Dibdin.
Na primeira história, Zen precisa reabrir um antigo caso, que pode gerar um escândalo político. No segundo episódio, Zen investiga um aparente suicídio, que o leva a se envolver com uma organização secreta chamada Cabal. No último episódio da temporada, Zen investiga um sequestro que envolve uma das famílias mais poderosas da Itália.
Estrelada por Rufus Sewell, da versão americana de “The Eleventh Hour” e da minissérie “Os Pilares da Terra”; a série também traz no elenco a atriz italiana Caterina Murino, que interpreta Tania Moretti, interesse romântico do personagem e assistente do chefe de polícia. O elenco também traz os atores Ben Miles, Stanley Townsend, Catherine Spaak e Francesco Quinn.
A produção é da Left Bank Pictures em parceria com a BBC Worldwide, Ingenious e Lipsync para os canais BBC, da Inglaterra, RTI, da Itália, PBS, dos EUA, e ZDF, da Alemanha.
No vídeo abaixo, entrevista com Rufus Sewell, que fala sobre a série. No início, preview do primeiro episódio.
Zen's Secret Rendezvous with Tania - Zen, Episode 2 Cabal Preview - BBC One
There must be good reasons why the fine crime novels of Michael Dibdin have been absent from screens large and small. They're probably to do with Dibdin's deadpan satirical tone and the anti-heroic nature of his protagonist, the Venetian detective Aurelio Zen. Also, his shrewd observations of the hidden undercurrents of Italian society are almost bound to get lost in screen translation. "Books and movies are completely different media", Dibdin once commented, "and the more the Hollywood crowd learns to knit their own stuff, the better."
So, it's pleasing - perhaps even slightly miraculous - to be able to give at least two-and-a-half cheers to "Vendetta", the first of three new Zen stories from the BBC, though a few of the production choices highlighted the paradoxes of international productions. For instance, while the locations were authentically and pungently Roman, since that's where Zen was currently posted, it was strange to find the police chief speaking in a bluff Yorkshire accent, while an Italian kidnapper Zen met during his investigations was plainly an Irishman. Yet Italian actors filled some of the supporting roles, while the co-headliner and love interest was played by voluptuous Italian bombshell Caterina Murino.
'Greg Wise looked as authentically Italian as a tin of Heinz spaghetti hoops'
The biggest question for aficionados will be over Rufus Sewell's suitability to play Zen. In the books, Zen can be lazy and devious, but he has developed his own eccentric technique for negotiating the labyrinth of bureaucracy and corruption that shrouds the Italian police and judiciary. There's a seedy and unhealthy quality about him, though somehow his sleuthing skills remain supernaturally sharp. Sewell, on the other hand, looks crisp and dynamic and movie star-ish (an enraptured Ms Murino apparently describes him as "a god"), and there was one scene in this opener when he suddenly burst into frankly un-Zen-like action mode, deftly felling a couple of antagonists before roaring away in an Alfa Romeo, pulling off a handbrake turn that would have made The Stig gape in admiration.
But sweep all that aside, and you still had a pacy and intriguing thriller, dripping with gorgeous panoramas of Rome and haunting Italian countryside, with a screenplay by Simon Burke which managed to hit many of the salient Dibdin-esque bullet points. The way the police are mere tools in the hands of politicians was deftly suggested, and indeed the plot hinged on Zen being faced with the dilemma of knowing that he would keep in with his colleagues at police headquarters by finding a murder suspect, Favelloni, guilty, but doing so would also risk the instant demolition of his career by an unscrupulous government minister (Greg Wise played Favelloni, looking as authentically Italian as a tin of Heinz spaghetti hoops). Even within the police force, Zen's unfortunate capacity for getting to the bottom of awkward cases and arresting the right people causes him to be regarded with suspicion.
Sewell had found a nice understated tone in which to play Zen, and was able to suggest an analytical mind ticking constantly behind a bumbling, facetious exterior. There were some smart nuggets of dialogue, like when Murino's Tania Morelli asked him: "Are we going to have an affair?" Zen: "Yeah." Tania: "OK."
Or the moment where Zen was propositioned by the Russian housekeeper at the mansion of a billionaire murder victim. He looked stunned. "What's the matter? You don't like sex?" she demanded. "No, I remember it very fondly," muttered Zen.
And, against the odds, this TV Zen retained some of the sense of primitive and brutal mystery that Dibdin brought to his depictions of Italy. As the title "Vendetta" suggested, the two sets of murders in the story were both rooted in the past, one dating back years and the other stretching back over generations of inbred criminality. In the next two episodes, perhaps we'll get to see some of Zen's fabled culinary skills in action too.