Generally speaking, Italian crime dramas fall into one of two categories. You have the Montalbanos – comedic crime capers that are invariably set in beautiful locations (Sicily in the case of Inspector Montalbano itself, of course) and feature even more beautiful women. And then you have the opposite extreme – the Gomorrahs. These are usually violent, dark dramas involving organised crime families and set in Italy’s seedier underbelly.
If you want to avoid all spoilers, stop reading this article now.
‘Lolita Lobosco’, or ‘Le Indagini di Lolita Lobosco’ to give it its original Italian title, is very much in the former camp. Featuring Deputy Chief Lolita Lobosco, played by Luisa Ranieri, the series is set in Bari. For those of you who failed your GCSE in Geography, Bari is at the top of the heel of Italy, very much towards the south of the country. And much like Sicily looks stunning in Montalbano, Bari looks idyllic in this show. I’ve no doubt the Bali tourist board are rubbing their hands together at the prospect of an upturn in visitor numbers.
Another extraordinary link to Montalbano is that Luisa Ranieri is the wife of Luca Zingaretti, who plays Inspector Montalbano himself. Zingaretti also produced a number of the episodes of ‘Lolita Lobosco’. Talk about keeping it in the family!
But enough of the Montalbano comparisons. Does ‘Lolita Lobosco’ stand up on its own merits? Well, I think the answer is yes it does. Don’t expect complex plots and multi-facetted characters – but if you want something that’s pleasing on the eye and entertaining, you could do an awful lot worse. Each episode is nearly two hours long, though – so it’s an investment in your time.
In the opening episode, Lobosco’s childhood sweetheart is accused of rape. Lobosco investigates and discovers that there’s more to this case than meets the eye. To be honest, the cracking of the case rests on a particular habit of the victim, and I sort of guessed how it was going to pan out from quite early on. But nevertheless, the journey was mostly entertaining.
Ranieri is the quintessential smouldering Italian beauty – like a cross between Monica Bellucci and Nigella Lawson. But for her character, Lolita’s looks are probably as much a hindrance as they are an advantage. As she says in the opening credits, “it’s been 50 years since the first woman joined the police force, and it’s still not an easy task. Especially when you’re 40, wear a 38” bra and are called Lolita”. Much has been made in the accompanying press release of her being a lone woman in a man’s world, like she’s some sort of feminist trailblazer. Personally, I think that’s over-egging the pudding. This is more fluff than a vehicle for girl power.
The bottom line here is – do you like ‘Inspector Montalbano’? If you do, they I’m 100% sure you’ll like this too. Ranieri is very good in the lead role, Bari looks sensational on screen, and the plots – whilst not particularly involved or intense – are a fun escape. Eminently watchable, I’d say.
Walter Presents: ‘Lolita Lobosco’ is available as a full boxset on Channel 4 Streaming from 25th August 2023.