Leonor Watling and Hugo Silva star in this series set in a Russian restaurant
When the midlife crisis hits, some buy a motorcycle, others decide to get a tattoo and there are those who even revisit the indulgence of youthful flirtation. But that’s small-fry compared to the eventful adventure Edurne (Leonor Watling) and Julián (Hugo Silva) embark on in “Nasdrovia”, a black comedy full of satire and irony that kicks off as soon as this couple of ex-lawyers decide to abandon their comfortable life as defenders of corrupt millionaires to open a Russian restaurant that, unfortunately, conquers the hearts of the mafia. And all thanks to Franky’s blini, an eccentric cook played by Luis Bermejo. Their professional and personal odyssey, told over six episodes, premiered last Friday on Movistar+.
The greatest compliment you can bestow on this comic cocktail produced by Globomedia (The Mediapro Studio) is that it is unlike any other. It’s part comedy part thriller, features violence, etc. The show’s creators, Sergio Sarria, Miguel Esteban and Luismi Pérez, as well as director, Marc Vigil, defend that “Nasdrovia” is a comedy “without jokes”, where the smiles and the laughter are sparked by the situations experienced by the protagonists, sometimes surreal and other times pathetic. Even the antagonistic mobsters (played by Anton Yakovlev, Michael John Treanor, Yan Tual and Kevin Brand, among others) amuse audiences with their discussions, between one crime spree and another, of mundane problems such as the “spy” ads on Instagram, the “Game of Thrones” spoilers and the drama of having to do without vodka because you’re a celiac.
Another differential feature of this series are the ironic and complicit comments Edurne makes while looking directly at the camera, thereby inheriting the inner monologues Julián conducts with himself in the book on which “Nasdrovia” is based, “The man who hated Paulo Coelho”, written by Sarria himself. What’s more, Leonor Watling expounds them with an enviable naturalness. In an environment with as much testosterone as that of the Russian mafia, it’s a breath of fresh air that it’s a woman who, in the style of “Fleabag”, seeks to generate empathy with the viewer.
The visual style of “Nasdrovia” is also atypical for a sitcom. Director Marc Vigil shot all six episodes of the series, and his watermark is more than noticeable in the end result, even with the odd nod and a wink to Tarantino in several of his shots. The creators didn’t hesitate about including international actors and dialogues in Russian, although that did mean they were obliged to hire a consultant to assist everyone with the Slavic accent. All this, Vigil claims, has been possible thanks to the excellent harmony with the creators, with whom he has worked side by side. In fact, the four are also listed as executive producers.
But let no one think for a second that the originality of the proposal might be ruled out by an audience who are not drawn to the crazy stuff we’re capable of during a crisis point in our lives. This show will appeal to anyone as they get caught up in the catastrophic drift the characters experience and empathize with their insecurities. “I don’t miss being young, I miss being 39 and not being a cliché,” Edurne says at one point. So, let’s raise our glasses in a toast because there’s absolutely nothing cliché about “Nasdrovia”.