Exeter, Devon UK • Apr 18, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Screen Griselda Review

Griselda Review

Antonella Perna reviews Netflix's Griselda, considering its compelling performance and feminist addition to the ongoing trend of drug cartel dramas.
3 mins read
Written by
Griselda | Official Trailer | Netflix

“The only man I was ever afraid of was a woman named Griselda Blanco.” This quote by Pablo Escobar sets the punchy tone of Netflix’s new limited series, Griselda, a biopic following the rise, reign, and fall of the ‘Godmother’ of the cocaine trafficking in Miami, who ruled with terror and is allegedly responsible for over 200 deaths.

Although biopics can result in inaccurate retellings of events, the added creative liberty allows for director Andrés Baiz to turn Griselda, despite the heinous acts she committed, to become a complex, multidimensional character. Fueled by her determination to provide for her children and opposed by late-70s sexism, the audience’s ability to sympathize with the cartel leader’s harrowing actions will have watchers subconsciously rooting for the antihero, treading the line between fascination and horror.

The show is supported by the compelling performance given by Sofía Vergara, who shines in her portrayal of the Colombian drug lord. It’s truly hard to remember that this is the same actress best known for comedic roles, especially when considering how memorable her voice and features are, although the latter is aided by the use of prosthetics and other face-altering techniques. Vergara seamlessly intertwines with her character, and proves her acting capabilities, especially when performing in her native tongue.

Vergara seamlessly intertwines with her character, and proves her acting capabilities, especially when performing in her native tongue.

The show shifts between languages, with conversations between American characters spoken in English, and those between cartel members in Spanish. This, along with most of the cast being of Colombian or otherwise South American descent, helps the realism of the show. This is further supported by the distinct Colombian accents and dialects adapted by the Spanish-speaking actors, as Baiz, of Colombian descent himself, defeats yellow-filter depictions of South America. Some negative reviews, however, criticize the show’s contribution to perpetuating negative stereotypes of South America, and particularly of Colombia, being further associated to cartels, rather than demonstrating how beautiful the country can be.

The show is relatively fast-paced, unfortunately glossing over Griselda’s prime years in power with a time-skip for the sake of continuity.

As for the cinematography, Griselda’s aesthetic is sharp and visually pleasing, without being oversaturated, with somewhat-hidden symbolism expertly balancing just between being too intricate or too obvious. The show is relatively fast-paced, unfortunately glossing over Griselda’s prime years in power with a time-skip for the sake of continuity. This does not pay off, as the series gets slightly more tedious to follow around episode 3, however picking up traction again for the final two (maybe slightly rushed) episodes. It all ends on an emotionally impactful, but almost anticlimactic, note, as the end of the drug lord’s life is reduced to a measly two sentences on the screen.

Where the show may fall slightly short of the mark in differentiating itself from other drug cartel shows, such as Narcos, its digestible length and fast-paced action make up for the lack of distinction. Supported by an excellent cast, and particularly reinforced by the women, Griselda makes for an intense, and particularly enjoyable, watch.

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