10 episodes at 13 minutes each.
Breaking up is never easy. It’s something that only heals with time, and the length of that can vary from person to person. Whether it be a 20 year marriage complete with kids and a house or a 5 year passion-filled rollercoaster that ends as suddenly as it began, it’s never easy. For Nico and Lina, their 9 year relationship has hit rock bottom. The passion is gone, their interests in one another have dwindled and their time has run out.
This essentially forms the crux of The Time It Takes, Netflix’s latest Spanish drama. With a split timeline jumping between the present and past, along with bitesize chapters, this show depicts a break-up both in-the-moment and in the days and weeks that pass. It’s a clever idea, one that actually keeps the break-up scenes withheld until the final scenes of the show.
In between that are a whole slew of puzzle pieces that are jumbled up, just waiting for viewers to piece them back together. We see Nico and Lina’s first meeting. Their promised birthday dinners; favourite music tracks that signify their relationship; and even shared memories in their apartment. It’s all pretty compelling stuff, although the show does have a tendency to slip into mundanity from time to time.
Despite its run-time, The Time It Takes is actually in no hurry to get to the good stuff. There’s a lot of mellow downtime and contemplation, mostly from Lina. This is, ultimately Lina’s story and it’s her perspective that we see everything play out. It works pretty well and the first half of the show essentially works to build up the relationship between Lina and Nico. The second half smashes that to bits, showing the moments of passion slipping from their relationship.
There are some pretty painful moments, especially late on, and it’s brought to life beautifully by Nadia de Santiago and Álvaro Cervantes, who play their parts to perfection. Nadia de Santiago is the real star of the show, although episode 9’s moments of healing for her do feel a little cheesy and on-the-nose. It’s a minor point but works reasonably well in the context of the story being told.
The ambiguous way this ends is likely to garner interest for a possible second season too, but to be honest, I actually think the show could have done without the scene in question. No spoilers here of course, but for me it undermine the ideas this show orchestrates so well. At its worst, it holds it back from being a more thoughtful piece.
Stylistically, The Time It Takes works pretty well as it jumps between the two timelines and the prefacing text and episode titles – confirming how long we’re spending in each timeline – is a great concept that never slips into gimmick territory. It also helps this stand out next to others in its field, including the excellent Normal People. Does it have enough longevity to remain a mainstay in the genre? I’m not sure.
Despite its unique premise, The Time It Takes doesn’t quite make the most of that to really hit it out the park. Some of these episodes are pretty slow too, although the pace does pick up toward the end. Nevertheless, there are some solid ideas about healing and moving on. It won’t be for everyone but brownie points for creativity; The Time It Takes is a short, brief glimpse into the heartache following a break-up and does enough to warrant a weekend binge.
Read More: The Time It Takes Season 1 Ending Explained
Verdict - 7.5/10