Primetime

Under Pressure

Andrucha Waddington, Mini Kerti

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Adapted by Jorge Furtado and Andrucha Waddington from the latter's 2016 film, Under Pressure is a character-driven medical drama set in an underfunded public hospital in a poverty-stricken Rio de Janeiro favela.

A year after losing his wife on his own operating table, brilliant but broken surgeon Evandro (Júlio Andrade) is still not whole. Haunted and emotionally stunted, he's become addicted to oxycodone. Nonetheless, his passion for his job hasn't faded and he spends his days determined to save each of the favela inhabitants who come through the doors of his guerilla hospital. The stakes are high and resources are low, forcing Evandro and his team to invent creative solutions. They never know when they will have to cut a garden hose into suction tubes or bag a cellphone in a glove and place it inside a patient's stomach for light during surgery. When the kind-hearted Carolina (Marjorie Estiano) joins the team, Evandro is forced to confront his demons and decide whether he is ready save his own life as well.

Adapting the 2016 feature film of the same name, showrunners Andrucha Waddington and Jorge Furtado return to TIFF with a pulse-pounding medical procedural full of humanity and suspense. But what really sets Under Pressure apart is the thoughtful writing and endearing performances. A throwback to situational dramas of the '90s, the series gets the most from its setting — telling issue-driven stories about socio-economic crises through a wide range of ailments. Backed by stunning performances from its leads, the show teems with culture, class, and raw energy.

MICHAEL LERMAN

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