The big question after watching The Innocent, a Netflix series that inspires a lot of questions: when will the Indian remake be out?

The Spanish series has been directed and co-written by Oriol Paulo – a name familiar to Indian producers looking to import ready-made international thrillers. Paulo’s debut feature The Body (2012) was reworked in Hindi in 2019. The same year, his The Invisible Guest yielded Badla (in Hindi) and Evaru (in Telugu).

Paulo’s winning formula makes his movies highly adaptable. The 45-year-old filmmaker has a gift for churning out improbable but riveting thrillers that are suspenseful all the way down until the last twist of the knife. The recurring theme of righteous revenge, the tendency of older crimes to resurface in inconvenient ways, the importance given to coincidence and destiny, and the agony that his characters endure in order to prove their innocence makes his movies hugely involving.

Paulo’s ability to cast doubt on every one of his characters also ensures that we can never trust any of them until the end credits roll. The films are stylishly shot and convincingly performed, with no time wasted on complicating elements such as psychological complexity or ethical debates on crime and punishment.

Paulo stretches his interest in the taut twister for the web series format. The Innocent is based on American crime writer Harlan Coben’s novel of the same name. The eight-episode limited series is the first in 14 Netflix adaptations of Coben’s novels.

Mario Casas in The Innocent (2021). Courtesy Netflix.

Coben’s love for pretzel-shaped twists suits Paulo just fine. A new mystery emerges just when an existing headscratcher appears to have been solved. We think that we following the story of Mateo, who has been jailed for an accidental murder, but are soon introduced to a minor army of characters, all of whom turn out to connected by circumstance or design.

Each episode begins with an introduction of a different character. The first one is dedicated to Mateo (Mario Casas from The Invisible Guest). Maeto has served a four-year sentence for killing a young man in a brawl. A few years later, he appears to be setting his life back on track. He heads a law firm and is deeply in love with his wife Olivia (Aura Garrido).

When it appears that Olivia has been abducted by a creepy man who sends Mateo disturbing videos, the convicted felon begins to wonder if his time in jail, which involved another accidental death of an inmate, might have something to do with Olivia’s disappearance.

Hold the thought: there are seven more episodes to go. Over the course of a total of 464 minutes, we meet the sharp and hard-working police detective Lorena (Alexandra Jiminez), the head nun of the convent where Lorena was raised, a mysterious suicide at this convent, and a pair of detectives from another branch of the police who badly want to take over the case.

The trail leads to a strip club and a trafficking ring, winds by the house of the parents of Maeto’s first victim, and includes a pit stop at the prison where Mateo served his sentence.

Alexandra Jimenez and Susi Sanchez in The Innocent (2021). Courtesy Netflix.

Masks feature literally and figuratively in the highly convoluted narrative. The shiftiest character is Maeto, who finds himself being linked to every one of the seemingly disparate crimes. Is Mateo is a fall guy or an evil mastermind? Oriol Paulo demands that we watch all the way until the end.

The occasionally sexually explicit series delivers an unending supply of developments and surprises. The antagonist turns out to be the least expected character – which is also the least startling of all the twists.

Always slick and stylish, beautifully lensed and produced and deftly performed, the series spins its yarn of sin and redemption with uninhibited confidence. Many questions linger nevertheless, including the one about which Indian producer will be the one lucky enough to buy the remake rights.

The Innocent (2021).

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‘Badla’ is a remake of a twist-laden Spanish thriller that invites viewers to guess the killer