Any piece of work that says “based on a real story” and true-crime fans are all eyes and ears. If you fall in the same category, you won’t even need to watch the trailer for the 2021 Italian film ‘Yara’ on Netflix, the 1 hour 36 minute runtime is an added advantage. Not going to take up a lot of your time in the day.

Directed by Marco Tullio Giordana and written by Graziano Diana, the film follows the investigation into the mysterious disappearance of 13-year-old Yara from Brembate di Sopra in Italy. Isabelle Ragonese plays Letizia Ruggeri, the prosecutor leading the investigation into the difficult case, because there are practically no clues on what happened to Yara. It’s as if she disappeared into thin air.

On the night of her disappearance, Yara had gone to drop off a stereo with a dance instructor, it was a 700 meter long walk from her. Her parents never saw her after that. Investigators didn’t even have straws to clutch at, and the entire country wondered what had happened to the young girl. The first tangible and major breakthrough came in only after the tragic discovery of Yara’s body, three months after she was last seen. Letizia Ruggeri does all she can to crack the case, including some very expensive methods that draw criticism over her method.

As a foreign viewer who knew little about the real case, ‘Yara’ makes for a very gripping watch. It’s devoid of over-the-top drama and is almost filmed like a documentary, with very little frills. A significant amount of the plot is carried forward through news reports, some of which felt like real archival footage on the search operations to look for Yara. It’s the character of Letizia that adds an emotional touch to the story. She is portrayed as a loving mother, and her maternal instincts seem to be the driving force in her quest to find answers in the difficult case. Viewers get a glimpse to the kind of pressure the police and prosecutors face while working on cases that draw a lot of media attention. The victim’s family does not get a lot of screen space, but when they do, they are played with a lot of dignity and sensitivity.

The climax felt underwhelming, because even though the film ties up the ending neatly, we never get clarity on what really happened on the fateful day. Since it’s based on a real case, perhaps the makers couldn’t just take the liberty of showing their own conclusions. Although, upon further reading, it turns out that the script does withhold a few twists and details that could’ve made the film feel a lot less satisfactory. It’s a 7/10 from me. Stream it on Netflix if you are a true-crime fan.

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