24Feb4:53 pmEST

Saturday Night at Market Chess Cinemas

The Romanian television series, Umbre, is currently available on Amazon Prime in America.

Umbre aired via HBO Europe, and is probably the closest thing you will ever see to a legitimate hidden gem. There have been two seasons so far, but I expect more to come as the show serves as a great ambassador for eastern European filmmaking. 

Much like Italy's Gomorrah, which I originally recommended here, and then on New Year's Eve placed it as my number two television series in this century, Umbre (also in subtitles) take a gritty, gripping, and decidedly believable look at organized crime in Europe.

However, whereas Gomorrah is far more ambitious with its multiple storylines and a multitude of recurring characters (and it indeed succeeds marvelously at it all), Umbre is a far more modest character study. But that is just fine by me, as I suspect any attempts to supplant Gomorrah by just about anyone will fall well short of the mark. 

The show is an international coming out party for Serban Pavlu, a fine Romanian actor whose talent rivals most actors you will see garner the spotlight and awards in a few weeks at the Oscars. 

Watch it. 

via imdb.com:

Relu is a family man. He has two children, a wife and a double life. Seen through the eyes of his family, Relu Oncescu appears to be an ordinary taxi driver. No one suspects that Relu works as a collector for Capitanu', a local mobster. Neither of the two worlds (his family and the mafia) knows of the other's existence. Relu manages to keep everything under control, but not for long. After accidentally killing a man, he tries to get out of the underworld, but he can't find his way back. Day by day, the secrets he keeps become increasingly oppressive and the lies begin to surface, one by one.

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