They Caught Cacau
I Did A Bad Thing
Do The Right Thing
Make Your Mark
Moving to the Same Beat
Set in the heart of the crime-riddled slums of São Paulo, Brazil, Sintonia is an interesting coming-of-age drama, one that intertwines three separate stories together in a pretty compelling way. Despite a relentless barrage of music laid over the episodes and an abundance of text pop-ups and other stylistic ticks, Sintonia oftentimes values style over substance, with distracting scene compositions that take away some of the allure with this one. Still, despite those gripes Sintonia does well to bring you into this world, with three very different journeys explored for these friends across the 6 episodes.
Although the series is often at its strongest when the three friends share scenes and discuss recent events together, the majority of the series sees three parallel stories play out in a bid to depict the trials and tribulations of Brazilian life. Hip-hop producer Doni dreams of making it into the big time and his story sees him learn the hard way that this life comes with a price. Nando showcases the usual drug-route that many kids turn to as a way of making money quickly whilst Rita finds herself morally conflicted over what to do in her life, with religion weighing heavily in her future. At times, these three stories don’t always mesh well together but when the kids share the screen, their chemistry is enough to keep you watching through this one.
Stylistically, Sintonia will either make or break the experience for you. The aforementioned text message pop-ups on screen, the social media scrolls and various other prompts feel over-used and the gimmick does wear thin very quickly. There’s also a number of rapid cuts and provocative close-ups, as Sintonia shows off body parts and dancing during a number of different songs in the show’s six episodes. Ironically, the strongest episodes are the ones where the pulsating beats and hip hop paves way for a slower, more methodical instrumental score to kick in.
If there’s one thing Sintonia gets right though, it’s the setting and characters. The numerous establishing shots do a great job showing off the poverty-stricken streets of São Paulo and within that, the three characters themselves are incredibly diverse, meaning you’ll likely find yourself gravitating toward one of the three in particular. Personally I felt Nando’s story was the most interesting, especially given the brutal reality of his journey, but to be honest all three characters have good arcs that are fleshed out nicely here.
Sintonia is an enjoyable Brazilian series, no doubt, one that successfully depicts all three teens’ journeys with enough diversity and flair to make for a compelling watch. While some of the stylistic ticks are a little over the top, there’s enough here to make for an engaging coming-of-age drama nonetheless. It’s not perfect, and for some this may feel a little similar in set-up to On My Block, but Sintonia does just enough to make for a relevant and engrossing first season that’s worth checking out.
Verdict - 6.5/10