On fire, the review: a true story between eros and thanatos on Netflix

The review of In flames, a six-episode miniseries that traces a crime case that shocked Catalonia, known as the crime of the Guardia Urbana.

On fire, the review: a true story between eros and thanatos on Netflix

On May 4, 2017 he was found the lifeless body, charred inside a car, of the policeman Pedro Rodriguez, a thirty-eight year old who served in the ranks of the Guardia Urbana of Barcelona. The investigations behind that macabre death immediately led to the figure of Rosa Peral, the woman he loved and who he planned to marry as soon as possible, and to that of her lover, Albert Lopez. All three, victim and accused, served in the ranks of the police.

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On fire: Úrsula Corberó in an image from the Netflix series

As we tell you in review of On Fire, Rosa had been pushed to join the police by her ex-husband, Javi, who was already a member of the Mossos special force. Despite being married to him and becoming the mother of a splendid little girl named Sofia, Rosa never hid her voluptuous nature and repeatedly cheated on her spouse with several colleagues, including first Pedro and then Albert: a true femme fatale who even now, in the case of the crime, she intends to play the role of irresistible seductress.

Between saying and doing


In flames: a scene from the series

It seems like a story created ad hoc to keep the general public in suspense, except that the story behind On Fire is actually happened in Catalonia a few years ago, immediately attracting the increasingly morbid attention of public opinion, ready to transform the investigations and the related trial into a truly national case. A full-blown crime case, now become a six-episode self-contained miniseries landed a few days ago in the ever-growing catalog of Netflix. A clever operation in its apotheosis of murky eroticism and presumed mystery, even if in reality the viewer – even the one unaware of the underlying facts – is already informed right from the first episodes about how things really went, suggesting when not declaring directly responsibility of the actual perpetrators.

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tell me who you are


On fire: a scene from the series

Here then the narrative game, emptied by the presence of revolutionary cliffhangers of any kind, can only obviously open up to a long series of flashbacks and time shifts which show us the various phases of Rosa’s private journey and the presumed motivations that pushed her to make certain decisions and to sacrifice family and lovers in favor of something unstoppable, a slave to overwhelming passions that from time to time pushed her to choices increasingly traumatic and dangerousfor himself and for others. At certain moments the screenplay tries to potentially shuffle the cards, with the two final episodes dedicated to the trial phases in which first the two lovers/killers offer their version of the facts and then, at the end of the day, the investigative report finally puts all the cards on the table and nips in the bud any external hypothesis of those who might still have sensed some hypothetical last-minute twist.

The triangle of mystery


In flames: a scene from the series

The so-called Crime of the Urban Guard sees multiple triangles, since Rosa’s figure was a full-blown man-eater and all her colleagues knew, amidst accusations of revenge-porn, sexting e insabbiature more or less unrealistic that gave a lot of material to the Spanish tabloid newspapers in those long hectic months: between investigations and judicial proceedings, this went on for several years. The cast can count on solid performances from Quim Gutierrez e Ursula Corberothe latter known throughout the world for having played Tokyo in the very popular series The paper house. In terms of staging we find ourselves faced with an honest but by no means essential miniseries, enjoyable but forgettable in its retracing of the facts without too much originality, with the continuous going back and forward in time which in the long run it can lead to boredom, especially if not supported by noteworthy revelations that could at least partially modify the main storyline. Often the protagonists look into the camera to recite the text messages sent, conversing in an unlikely way with the viewer, perhaps seeking understanding or, better yet, compassion for that life thrown to the wind.


On fire: Úrsula Corberó in the Netflix series

And the partial nuances on the toxicity of the relationships that led to disproportionate reactions do not make sense, precisely because of the rigid Manichaeism with which the main figures of this Parable of Eros and Thanatos with tragic consequences. If you want to know more, you can also find the relevant documentary on the story, also distributed on Netflix and the title The Rosa Peral casewhere Evil shows itself with its true face, not sweetened and/or embellished by adaptations suitable for the general public.


Having become a national case, known as the Urban Guard Crime, the murder of the policeman Pedro Rodriguez – for which his partner and her lover were convicted – has kept Spanish public opinion in suspense for years, awaiting the final judgment. This macabre story of passion and violence lives again in a six-episode miniseries, which fails to manage the twists and turns and sets everything up without arousing too much curiosity, phoning the story even for those unaware of what actually happened in reality. The good cast and two high-tension final episodes, with the trial phases taking center stage, allow us to turn a blind eye to a script that delves into the murky, without being equally incisive in terms of psychological nuances.

Because we like it

  • Solid cast, starting with the “femme fatale” Úrsula Corberó.
  • The underlying story makes you shudder in its cruelty, ideal for an audience passionate about crime news.

What’s wrong

  • The screenplay makes the various passages predictable and deliberately lacks actual twists.
  • A more free approach is preferred, discarding any refinements in the management of the characters.

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