Chapter 01: Cubes
Chapter 02: Coins
Chapter 03: Corridor
Chapter 04: Gateway
Chapter 05: Water
Chapter 06: Glass
Chapter 07: Capsule
Chapter 08: Button
Featuring a bleak, dystopian future and a Hunger Games-esque premise, Netflix’s first Brazilian show could be mistaken for simply playing copycat. Its low budget and recycled sets make it easy to dismiss but if you can see past this, there’s a lot to like with this show. The 3% is a well paced, character driven drama that manages to sustain a high level of tension and thrill throughout right up to its shocking climax. Whilst the subtitles may put people off, given the terrible English dub making it near impossible to watch in that way, the 3% has a lot going for it and manages to deliver from start to finish.
The main story follows a group of 20 year olds, rising from the slums of inland Brazil to compete for the yearly chance to become part of the prestigious 3% that are able to join the idyllic offshore. Its a little slow moving to start with, juggling numerous characters and weaving a secondary plot about a rebel group called “The Cause”, but as the season progresses, we grow to learn more about the motives of certain characters making for a fascinating watch. This is ultimately where the 3% really thrives – with the character writing and script work.
Too often in shows like this the characters slot into neat little cliches with under-developed plots and motivations. The 3% bucks this trend with well written, complicated characters that evolve as the season progresses. Each key character has a specific purpose and aren’t just there to serve the plot. You really feel like these are genuine people with individual motivations and reasons for trying to join the 3% and its here, seeing these characters clash and join forces, that the show really shines.
Its a shame that some people will be turned off by the subtitles as this is a show that really deserves more recognition. The first episode is a little slow moving in truth, and the over-reliance on angled shots makes for a disorientating watch at times. With such a low budget production, there isn’t much shown of mainland Brazil or the slums where these characters came from which is a bit of a shame. We also barely get a glimpse of the offshore which does sour the overall journey. A lot of the season is shot through the use of handheld cameras too and whilst this helps to get up close to the action, it can be a little distracting at times with some scenes juttering uncontrollably when a more focused, steady camera might have been a better option.
With a great cast of characters, a well written script and perfect length at 8 episodes, the 3% manages to wrap up most of its plot points while leaving enough open to allow a possible second season. Thematically, the 3% is an interesting looking at class and whether the idyllic offshore is really the paradise its made out to be. Nowhere is this shown in more detail than the final episode and, without giving too much away, there’s a fascinating scene featuring a conflicted character trying to decide whether to join the 3% or not.
Its hard to fault 3% and its easy to see why. A smartly written script and realistically depicted, complicated characters make up the bulk of the show. Despite the over-reliance on handheld cameras, a few wooden lines of dialogue and a lot of angled shots, the 3% rises above others in this genre with its sharp focus on the plot and characters. Its just such a shame that it won’t get as much recognition as it should, given its Brazilian language, as the 3% is a great show and well worth an investment of time to watch it.
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Verdict - 8/10