‘Leonardo’ is a historical drama created by Frank Spotnitz and Steve Thompson. The series was produced by Italian Lux Vide in collaboration with Rai Fiction, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Frank Spotnitz's Big Light Productions, and Freddie Highmore's Alfresco Pictures in association with France Télévisions and RTVE. The visual effects of this project were created by Stargate Studios Malta.
Irish actor Aiden Turner, who played the title character in the BBC series Poldark and the dwarf Kili in The Hobbit film trilogy, takes on the role of the Renaissance great, whose personal life remains something of a mystery. Turner stars alongside Freddie Highmore of The Good Doctor as the police officer investigating the murder; Oscar-nominated actor Giancarlo Giannini as the artist Verrocchio; and Italian actress Matilda De Angelis as Leonardo’s muse, Caterina da Cremona.
Leonardo is framed as a survey of the artist’s life as he is about to stand trial for the killing of platonic best pal Caterina da Cremona (De Angelis).
There is an attempt to psychoanalyze Leonardo, whose father abandoned him. But this feels like a quick sketch rather than the fuller portrait one of history’s greatest minds surely merits.
The show aptly delves into the artiste’s mind and ultimately reveals the inner workings of a perfectionist trying to make it big in the art circles. Vinci’s resolute yet reticent mannerisms become the fulcrum for a murder thriller, quietly brewing beneath the main plot of a historical drama. Aidan Turner’s return as the maestro fits the aesthetic perfectly. Detailed backstories precede his famous works like The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. Even if it’s an extrapolation of facts, credit should be extended to the makers for developing a space that feels lived-in and believable.
The show’s presentation comes with an artistic sophistication: each scene is framed as if every shot were an oil painting. Unfortunately, overall it lacks a creative spark. Everything (except for the central performances) goes half-heartedly through the motions, trying to squeeze as much drama into the opening episodes as possible. Though the beginning of the series doesn’t make for a great introduction, Leonardo has potential, provided it’s able to streamline its clunky script.
It’s said that artists are meant to be sad if they are to create something worthwhile. And Leonardo made sure to show the titular character drowning in sadness. He was cursed as a child to destroy everything he loved. That curse took a toll on Leo growing up, especially as someone who was shunned by his father. Caterina’s arrival offered Leo the love that was missing from his life. But even their relationship got marred by the circumstances the two found themselves in over the years, ultimately snowballing into Caterina’s demise.
Aidan Turner and Matilda De Angelis did a wonderful job of depicting the strong bond between Leo and Caterina. The love shared between them is going to make you feel sad whenever they’re separated due to certain situations. And for those wondering, there’s no jealousy between Caterina and Salai because the love Leo had for both of them was of two different kinds.
While Leonardo might not be for everyone due to the murder-mystery setup and the liberties taken with retelling an iconic artist’s life story in such a manner, I still highly recommend watching this show. Each episode is around 50 minutes long. The entire season is binge-able, and I think you too will appreciate a series that doesn’t shy away from having a queer Leonardo da Vinci as the lead.
Final Score – [7/10]
Reviewed by – Ritika Kispotta
Follow her @KispottaRitika on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KispottaRitika)
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