Sometimes I wonder how closely Big Brother is watching. Is my Netflix queue, so full of crime shows, the true reason why it’s taking so long for my Green Card to be renewed this time? Has my viewing history made me a “person of interest”? (I’ve been blaming the Trump administration, but maybe he is actually innocent of this offense.) But, I really do like mysteries, police procedurals, and a good psychological thriller just can’t be topped. And if the mystery is in French? C’est magnifique.
Netflix came through again with Criminal: France. The French series is very brief, just three episodes of about forty minutes each. Each one happens almost exclusively in a police interrogation room. As skilled as the interrogators are, there has clearly been a lot of water under the bridge that has led to friction and distrust among the police officers, although the details are really just hinted at, with typical Gallic reserve. As the stories unfold, they aren’t usually what the officers were expecting to hear, in the best tradition of a good mystery.
I recognized a few of the actors from other shows or movies, but the only big name among them was Nathalie Baye, accused of causing the death of a labor agitator on a construction site. I realized afterward that it’s no surprise that I liked the series, as the director, Frédéric Mermoud, is also responsible for some of my other favorite French shows, such as Engrenages (Spiral) and part of Les Revenants (The Returned). I watched it in French with French subtitles, but English and many other languages are available, both for audio and subtitles. The scenarios for each episode are intriguing, well-written, and presented with intelligence. If you like a crime show as much as I do, I highly recommend this one. I hope that there will be a second season. I have seen that there is a version for the United Kingdom, Spain, and Germany, but I haven’t checked them out. Do any of you have some insights to share about them?