La Casa de Papel (Netflix English title: “Money Heist“) was the most-watched non-English language series of 2018 and one of the most-watched series overall on Netflix. This is a Spanish “Ocean’s Eleven” on steroids.
A criminal mastermind, calling himself “The Professor,” plans the biggest heist in Spain’s history: to storm the Royal Mint and print billions of euros. He recruits eight people who have the criminal talents he needs, knowing they have nothing to lose.
Named after cities, each robber has a backstory and the motivation to move on with a different, less desperate life. In La Casa de Papel “Tokyo” is the unreliable narrator, with a winner-take-all attitude, and no impulse control but lots of unhealed wounds. She narrates each character’s backstory in flashbacks, time-jumps, and unmitigated judgment of her fellow team members. Dressed in red jumpsuits and wearing masks of the Spanish painter Salvador Dalí, the burglars take 67 hostages as part of their plan in negotiating with the police.
The Professor oversees the heist from a different location, using state-of-the-art computer systems and an extraordinary psychological analysis of the police. Soon the charismatic, albeit excessively cerebral Professor wins over the public, who are angry at the powerful banks and corrupt corporate and government elite.
The actors, in often tight camera shots, reveal the emotions and alienation at play as they have to deal with each other, the Professor, the hostages, and the police–particularly one vulnerable and needy police inspector. An extraordinary string of plots over thirty-five episodes, La Casa de Papel rarely sags throughout an entire episode, but ratchets up tension, drama, and unexpected twists in psychology and power dynamics. A highly unpredictable chess game between the police and the robbers, you will be surprised by almost every move, even with its “telenovela” elements. Can’t wait for the next season!
Note: There are three Parts [=Seasons]. Part 1 has 13 episodes; Part 2: 9 episodes; Part 3: 8 episode and were released December 2017 through July 2019. The filming of Part 4 of La Casa de Papel ended last month and will be released sometime next year.