Spoilers are ahead. Amazon Prime’s new series Dom looks like a gritty action-adventure drama. But minutes into the show, it’s clear that creator Breno Silveira is really trying to tell a story that’s as relatable as it is thrilling: Dom is about crime, yes, but more than that, it’s about the complicated, strong, and often heartbreaking relationship between a father and son on two very different life paths. And it’s about one father and son in particular.
In the Portugese-language series, Flávio Tolezani and Filipe Bragança play civil policeman Victor Dantas at different points in his life. Circa 1970, young Victor (Bragança) is a skilled scuba diver who, by chance, encounters intelligence agents and agrees to help them in their fight against drug trafficking. Flash forward to adulthood, and Victor (Tolezani) is a civil police officer who’s devoted his life to putting an end to drug trafficking — but his son, Pedro Dom (Gabriel Leone), is struggling with addiction and on track to becoming Rio de Janeiro’s most notorious (and most wanted) criminal. Understandably, as Victor tries to help save Pedro from the forces he’s fought for so long, their relationship becomes more and more fraught.
Both Victor and Pedro Dom were real people. And while Pedro was shot and killed in 2005 at the age of 23, the real-life Victor — whose name was actually Victor Lomba — lived to see the early stages of his life story becoming an Amazon series. Silveira first met Lomba 12 years ago, and told Variety that he instantly “recognised an incredible true story” that could work as a feature film. But the process wasn’t easy.
“I hired two screenwriters to do a series of interviews with Victor and get the depth of the story, but both quit after a few meetings with him. They said he was impossible to work with,” Silveira said. He teamed up with Tony Bellotto, a multitalented Brazilian author and musician, who wrote Lomba’s story into a book that is, itself, not quite a biography or a work of fiction.
After Silveira read the book — also titled Dom, and published in 2019 — he realised Lomba’s story contained too many themes, storylines, and nuances to fit into just one film. “As well as a father-son drama, the narrative encompassed four decades of portraying how cocaine trafficking turned Rio de Janeiro into the city it is today,” he told Variety. “In a serialised narrative, we’d have the opportunity and the time to explore several of these characters’ layers and reveal many different facets, so that the public could grasp their dualities.”
Silveira told Estados de Minas that Lomba didn’t just offer insight into his own story, but also into the history of drug trafficking in Rio de Janeiro. “Victor was a witness to the arrival in the country of the first cocaine charge in 1973,” he said. “He saw the city transformed, saw his son transform.”
At the end of Dom, Pedro finds himself flanked by police officers. He throws a grenade, and the screen fades to black. Although there’s room here for a second season that deviates from Pedro’s real life, this scene mimics his final moments before he was found shot and killed inside a dumpster.
Lomba died in 2018 after fighting lung cancer. But Silveira said he died at peace knowing that his family’s story would be told in an honest, empathetic way. “Victor’s dream was to see his story with his son told in a film, from a sensitive perspective, not by bloody tabloids,” Silveira told Variety. “So, when I decided to take up the project again and told him it was going to happen, he said he felt his mission in life was finally accomplished.”