On the face of it, Mary and Mike are a middle-aged couple living comfortably in Santiago, Chile, along with their two children. They boast live-in hired help, and host drinks parties with high-powered types. Yet they have a very dark secret.
Mary and Mike are based on a real-life couple who were favoured assassins of dictator Augusto Pinochet, who ruled over the country from 1973 to 1990. Dubbed the most dangerous couple in Latin America, they trapped and eliminated those who stood in Pinochet’s way.
The American Mike (Andrés Rillón) has a penchant for electronics, which comes in handy when torturing victims in the family garage, even while his son’s birthday party takes place in the backyard. He is intense and contained. Mary (Mariana Loyola) is much more exuberant and outgoing. A writer, she brings to her writing club ‘implausible’ stories of various horrors the pair actually carry out.
It’s a horrendous time in Chilean history, Loyola and Rillón bringing it to life in sharp blue-eyeshadowed and leather-jacketed relief. They’re mesmerising to watch, appearing so morally at home with their actions. Mike looks like a kid getting to play with all his favourite toys that just happen to be deadly. Mary has sexual confidence to burn, using it against men they’re targeting and sparking Mike’s jealous streak.
In private, they are passionate lovers and neglectful parents, not having a clue their 15-year-old daughter Cony (Consuelo Carreño) is in a relationship with the older Javier, nor that their son Simón (Elías Collado), partially deaf as a result of one of Mike’s explosions when he was a toddler, is desperately lonely.
If this wasn’t based on real events, one might indeed find it implausible. But from their lavish home and on travels round the continent, they lived this double life. Mary and Mike sheds light on the recent past, in a rare look at this part of our world.
Six-part series Mary and Mike is now streaming at SBS On Demand.