Vatican girl review: Another victim of the true crime pitfalls

Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi follows the titular 15-year-old girl’s mysterious disappearance that involved the Vatican along with a host of other powerful institutions.


On a particularly hot day in Vatican City in June 1983, a 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi goes to her music school for rehearsals, only to never return home thereafter.

The Orlandi family begins their desperate attempts to search for their beloved Emanuela, only to contend with grains of developments that all lead to dead ends.

The suspicions rise when the Vatican seems to be involved in the case, owing to a phone call from the supposed kidnappers demanding Mehmet Ali Agca’s release in exchange for Emanuela’s.

Ali Agca, the man who tried to kill then Pope John Paul II and failed, condemns the kidnapping and reveals new information that introduces another twist to the case.

Amid the doubts and speculations over the kidnappers’ identities, the deadline passes by and Emanuela’s missing case remains unsolved.

Over the years, the Orlandi family keeps their hopes up while trying to find some speck of a lead that might point them to Emanuela, only to be disappointed and frustrated time and again.

After a Cold War and KGB connection that leads to nowhere, rumours of the Vatican’s involvement with the mafia surface, with the Magliana gang members being considered the prime suspects of kidnapping.

Decades after Emanuela’s disappearance, new faces come forward, claiming to be directly involved with the kidnapping in varying capacities.

Despite all the developments and leads, the case remains unresolved.

In the end, the only things that remain are a loud silence from the Vatican, a barrage of unresolved mysteries, and the unrelenting quest of the Orlandi family to learn the truth about Emanuela’s fate.


The docuseries introduces a new theory to the long-running case, with a close childhood friend of Emanuela giving a damning confession to the Netflix crew.

Despite the great amount of surface-level public interest that the docuseries will bring to the case, it might help reignite the important discourse around Vatican’s secrecy.


Vatican Girl is occupied with the kitschy dramatization that is often one of the pitfalls of almost all contemporary true crime media.

There’s nearly not enough time given to the Orlandi family’s emotional response to the decades-long trauma they’ve suffered from.

Pietro Orlandi and other key figures involved with the investigations denounce the attention given to figures like Marco Accetti.

They condemn the attention-seeking grift he’s made out of making sweeping claims about the disappearance.

And yet, the docuseries gives the unreliable man a great deal of screen time, distracting from the actual serious elements of the matter.


Vatican Girl weaves the decades-spanning developments in the disappearance case of Emanuela Orlandi through a series of interviews taken with family, friends, and professionals involved with the case.

However, in doing so, the docuseries puts a lot of focus on sensationalizing the various aspects of the case, rather than investing its runtime into a more intellectual dissection of faith and its overwhelming political and societal power.

Apart from faith, the case also has at its centre, a conspiracy worth discussing as it speaks to the secretive nature of major institutions and the ramifications therein — all aspects of the narrative that elude Netflix’s Vatican Girl.

Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi
Vatican girl review: Another victim of the true crime pitfalls 1

Director: Mark Lewis

Date Created: 2022-10-20 12:30

Editor's Rating:

Also Read: Vatican Girl explained: Who kidnapped Emanuela Orlandi?

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