Emaneula Orladi was a Vatican teenager who mysterious disappeared while returning home from a flute lesson on 22nd June 1983. With 0.2 square miles in the country, high walls surrounding its perimeter and gates shut after dark, the mystery soon escalated.
The Pope gave a big speech in St Peter’s Square after, seemingly hinting that he knew Emanuela was kidnapped (given the language he used), while a strange American phoning with an Italian accent admitted to holding Emanuela captive, giving the family a deadline of the 20th July to get their daughter back. In order to do so, they had to organize the release of Ali Agar, a far-right Turkish terrorist who tried to kill the Pope.
Deadline day arrives, Ali is not released and the mystery subsequently goes unsolved. Fast forward to 2022 and Netflix’s true crime team are back with another mystery to try and unravel. Much like the Madeline McCann case that gripped the world, Emanuela Orlandi’s disappearance is one wracked in mystery and finger-pointing but ultimately no definitive answers.
If you were enthralled by Netflix’s The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, then chances are you’ll love this too. Much like that docu-series, there are no definitive answers but instead a series of different rabbit holes dived down to explore. Each of these lend themselves to a number of different theories, some more credible than others.
The second episode, for example, spends its time exploring a possible lead in Luxembourg… that goes nowhere. The third episode switches tact instead and dives into the narrative surrounding a man stepping forward and claiming to have kidnapped Emanuela, 10 years after the original incident. The fourth and final part then looks into the aftermath of the “Vatileaks” scandal.
Each of these chapters do well to keep you watching, intent on finding out how far the rabbit hole goes. There’s a stylish feel to a lot of this too, which is good because in essence, with each episode clocking in at nearly an hour, there’s an awful lot of padding used to stretch the run-time.
In fact, that’s ironically another similarity this has to The Disappearance of Madeline McCann. There’s so much here that could have been condensed and cut, to the point where you could have easily made this a 3-parter and alleviated a lot of the issues.
Vatican Girl certainly isn’t a bad docu-series though and there’s plenty to sink your teeth into – if you have the patience. This is certainly not an easy one to binge, given how much padding there is, but there’s definitely an enticing series at the heart of this.
If you like conspiracy theories and unresolved mysteries you may find enough to whet the appetite but everyone else will likely come away feeling a bit unfulfilled – especially given the 4 hour time investment this show demands.
Verdict - 6.5/10