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Review: White Lines is Thoroughly Entertaining

May 15, 2020
6 min read

‘White Lines’ is a bilingual thriller created by Alex Pina, the creator of ‘Money Heist.’ The Anglo-Spanish thriller tells a murder mystery tale set in the sun-soaked island of Ibiza, which is poised to become the next party destination. The show promises to be another quality addition to Netflix’s impressive line-up of international offerings. However, does it live up to tall expectations?

White Lines Season 1 Recap

At its core, ‘White Lines’ is a whodunit revolving around the murder of a charismatic, hard-partying, and prominent DJ, Axel. Axel’s body is found twenty years after his death. His sister, Zoe, makes it her mission to find out who killed her brother. Axel’s friends: Marcus, Anna, and David have been living in Ibiza, and Zoe knows them. Zoe lives at Marcus’ house first.

On the other hand, Axel’s body had been found on the property of Andreu Calafat, the richest man in Ibiza. His daughter, Kika, used to date Axel. Andreu’s son, Oriol, was also acquaintances (for lack of better terminology) with Axel and had been one of the people at Axel’s birthday party on the night that he had died. Axel was also sleeping with Andreu’s wife, Conchita. Hence, all four Calafat family members are the prime suspects. Another pivotal character is Boxer, the Calfats’ head of security.

Apart from the murder mystery, another subplot involves Marcus getting in trouble with a few Romanian drug traffickers. Marcus is one of the drug peddlers at the Calafats’ nightclubs. Moreover, Anna is Marcus’ ex-girlfriend and is now dating another man. David, on the other hand, has become a spiritual guru/healer of sorts and operates a hippie retreat.

White Lines Review:

Alex Pina seems to have mastered the art of turning seemingly clinched premises into surprisingly engaging tales. With ‘White Lines,’ he offers a comprehensive, well-crafted, and thoroughly entertaining murder-mystery tale. In many ways, the Anglo-Spanish series is everything that another Spanish production, ‘Toy Boy‘ aims to be: seemingly wishful but jaw-droppingly deep and dark. In fact, one of the actors of Pina’s show, Pedro Casablanc is also a pivotal cast member of ‘Toy Boy.’

On the surface, ‘White Lines’ might look like any other privileged “party thriller:” wherein characters seem to live in a bubble where money and real-world problems are non-existent. There are drug-addled orgies, dogs on cocaine, psychedelic frogs, Oedipan incest, and so much more. But there is also Mozart. There are loud parties, but there is also chaotic introspection.

‘White Lines’ breathes exoticism, and we’re not just talking about its gorgeous setting. The first-world characters constantly refer to and exoticize India as the destination for spiritual journeys. But it is completely believable to imagine characters like Axel or David visiting Goa or Auroville, India, and boasting of expanding their plane of consciousness upon return. On a more personal note, the character of David reminds me of a Portuguese guy I met in Auroville whose philosophy in life was to not have any plans because the planet is “circular and not straight.”

Just to be clear, hippie India is not just a passing reference. It is very integral to the story. Characters chant hymns and hug cows believing that they would be healed. However, this is not offensive or a form of misrepresentation in any manner. The reason I explain this so much is that it displays how surprisingly deep ‘White Lines’ is. The characters are some of the most well-sketched ones one will witness in recent times. Each one of them. Plus, the way that their flaws are addressed is nothing short of phenomenal. ‘White Lines’ allows you to believe that the people on the screen are having the best times of their lives. It lets you believe that being a hodophile is the best way to live. And then, it pulls the rug from under the audience’s feet.

In the middle episodes, the above theme takes over the show, and that is what keeps the story refreshing. This reminds one of Danny Boyle’s ‘The Beach.’ Ibiza is painted like a paradise. Just when viewers start to google how to reach (and possibly live) there, the underlying flaws of the seemingly heavenly way of life are magnified. Its truly a rollercoaster ride that plays with viewers’ very beliefs. ‘White Lines’ effectively portrays why “living in the moment” is a warped and dangerous idea, if misunderstood. For a murder mystery, the emotions are craftily captured, with the overall message that pain needs to be lived through, and cannot be escaped.

Speaking of the whodunit premise itself, “it’s like Cluedo,” as one of the characters says. The show gets everything right about murder mysteries: everybody is an equally believable suspect, and yet, the revelation at the end is equivalent to a coconut being dropped on one’s head. I would go as far as to say that ‘White Lines’ is as binge-able as ‘Money Heist.’ In addition to that, it is definitely better made than Pina’s heist thriller.

The cinematography is simply breathtaking. Coupled with the plot, screenplay, and characters, one literally feels transported to Ibiza. Its the cheapest way to get there really. There are tons of stunning aerial shots, and Ibiza is made to feel like an on-screen small-town: a universe of its own with several secrets. The Spanish and English combo works well as it makes the action more authentic, and the dialogues turn out to be wittily written as well. My favorite one is “the avocados, and the vegans will be the end of drug trafficking.”

When it comes to tone, ‘White Lines’ sports a well-rounded palette with several moments of subtle, comic relief. The plot advances with an interesting structure, with the first half being crafted around Zoe’s sessions with her therapist. It feels like a multi-dimensional puzzle that jumps back and forth in time perfectly: dispersing information at the correct time in the aptest place. Oh, and the background music is fittingly well-selected too. One of the background tracks, ‘Free Animal’ by Foreign Air, is perhaps the perfect description of the show.

Rating: 4.5/5

Read More: Where is White Lines Filmed?

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