Review: Netflix's 'White Lines' Season 1 Satisfyingly Blurs Them All

White Lines Nuno Lopes Boxer Duarte Silva Laura Haddock Zoe Collins Netflix
Image by Des Willie / Netflix
What is love, lust, closure, revenge, and justice? In Season 1 of Netflix’s edgy and intriguing “White Lines,” it is a messy mirage. “Money Heist” creator, Alex Pina, goes for the jugular with a vivid and visceral sun-kissed offering that is sensual, sensational, and downright addictive.

Season 1 of the Netflix series’ action takes place in the breathtakingly picturesque Ibiza, Spain, and centers on Zoe (Laura Haddock), a married mom whose world is turned upside down in the opening minutes of “White Lines.” Everything shifts for Zoe when the body of her brother, Axel, is discovered. He had been absent from her life for 20 years.

Until his body is discovered, Zoe had believed Axel (Tom Rhys Harries) abandoned her, living off in India without a word to her. Devastated at assuming the worst of her brother, Zoe sets out to find his killer in a bid to aid her conscience. The thing is that Spain has a statute of limitations on murder.

Conveniently, that time runs out after 20 years. Hence, Zoe’s one-woman crusade throughout the 10-episode freshman season of “White Lines” is only about answering her questions. She cannot bring Axel’s killer to any sort of legal justice.

As Zoe becomes immersed in life in Ibiza, she catches back up with Axel’s friends and meets the mysterious, Boxer (Nuno Lopes). It turns out that Zoe is a repressed person internally dying to betray her loyal husband, their 15-year-old daughter, and the life they have built.

To say she is unsympathetic and her actions throughout “White Lines” despicable would be an understatement. Zoe is selfish like her brother Axel. Albeit, she struggles to be so more than him. “White Lines” blurs this and many other lines with a staggering accomplishment of casting.

Laura Haddock has the charisma necessary to sell Zoe as a hot mess rather than the all-out heartless woman she is on paper. Meanwhile, Nuno Lopes arms Boxer with such a knockout punch of machismo and mystery, you understand why Zoe feels drawn in by him.

“White Lines” belongs to Lopes, whose magnetic performance electrifies the series. Lopes’ Boxer is a type of male character one has rarely seen portrayed outside of Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone.” Lopes’ take offers a portrait of a genuinely complex man, whose multi-faceted emotional range makes him a contemplative enforcer with a sense of humor, style, and unmistakable appeal.

Image by Netflix
The rest of the cast follows suit with a surprising display of genuineness to anchor the rather ambitious storyline. “White Lines” provides the perfect example of how powerful casting can be and how much a show can benefit when it is utilized. It is an asset the series’ creator knows all too well as “Money Heist” also relies and hinges on an ensemble.

Alex Pina is well-known for his heart-racing crime drama, “Money Heist,” but there is no doubt “White Lines” not only steps out of its shadows, but it also dares to outshine it. His new Netflix original takes high risks, and they pay off.

It crosses so many boundaries and makes so many surprising statements that it will take you a while for it to all soak in. Like a good tan, there is a delay in feeling the effects of its full glow.

With “White Lines,” Alex Pina’s work feels uninhibited as it basks in an abandon that his other mentioned work shies away from. There is skin, sexuality, and a brazen degree of storytelling that calls to mind the fantastic Pedro Almodรณvar, the maestro who brought audiences “Talk to Her” (among others).

As a fan of Almodรณvar’s work, this is a huge compliment and the sign of an unexpected and welcome treat. Do not be mistaken. There is more to “White Lines” than skin and sensation. It is philosophical and deep, meditative, and thought-provoking, and feverishly emotional. Netflix does not have another series quite like it to my knowledge. The fascinating “Perfume” is a far darker-hued take on similar terrain.

As the double-intended title hints at (cocaine lines and white lies?), “White Lines” blurs so many so well, it is better described as an experience than a binge-watch. The series’ main problem lies in Axel being so dislikable for so long. Not that later episodes absolve him of being a monster who undoubtedly sews the seeds of his demise.

Although, to say that empathy for Zoe’s cause is not present due to Axel being so horrible would be an understatement. On that note and many others, the characters in “White Lines” do not espouse a belief system I agree with. Giving into selfish desires at the expense of others’ feelings/happiness does not make someone a hero. It makes them a total jerk.

To its credit, “White Lines” gives voice to many perspectives on this topic, allowing them to breathe with sincerity. Some lines should not be crossed, and as this Netflix original portrays, they are sometimes too hard to see before you have.

Rating: 9/10

“White Lines” is currently streaming on Netflix, along with a lot of other excellent TV content worth binge-watching.