One of the most successful French dramas, A French Village, makes its stateside premiere this evening. A must-watch? Sans doute, absolument.
Winner of the Sériemania Best Series Award and two-time nominee for Best Television Film or Television Series at the Globes de Cristal Awards, the critically-acclaimed and audience favorite A French Village (Un Village Français) chronicles the German occupation of the (fictional) village of Villeneuve from the perspective of its citizens.
It is riveting. Disturbing. Devastating.
A French Village opens with “The Landing” (“Le Débarquement“) on 12 June 1940.
Word is out that the Germans have taken the city of Besançon and are now in Lyon, and Dr. Daniel Larcher (Robin Renucci, Maigret) is in desperate need of supplies, as he believes refugees could flood into Villeneuve at any time. With one of his patients about to give birth, he tells his concerned wife, Hortense (Audrey Fleurot, Spiral), to cancel all non-emergency appointments and say nothing about the fall of Besançon to avoid creating panic.
Meanwhile, the spoiled Jeannine Schwartz (Emmanuelle Bach, NYPD Blue) asks husband Raymond (Thierry Godard, Spiral) to get three chickens for her birthday dinner, and wonders aloud if it’s safe for son Marceau to go on the class field trip, since the German Army is getting closer. Raymond (Thierry Godard, Spiral) believes the Germans are 100 km away, so what’s the harm, as long as Marceau brings his gas mask.
Raymond has bigger problems at the moment. His affair with the likewise married Marie Germain (Nade Dieu, The Butterfly) notwithstanding, his sawmill business is floundering, and the police have arrived at the mill to investigate a Communist cell that appears to be operating from the premises.
Then a German plane opens fire. On the teachers and students on the field trip.
An explosion that rocks the hillside follows.
The Germans have arrived.
The occupation of Villeneuve has begun.
It will last four years.
During that time, the daily lives of the Larcher, Schwartz, Germain, and other families and individuals, including Villeneuve police commissioner Jean Marchetti (Nicolas Gob, La belle et la bête), teacher Lucienne Borderie (Marie Kremer, Blame It On Fidel), and members of the Resistance, and French and German authorities and military, become a seemingly never-ending struggle for survival. And victory.
Additional members of the huge ensemble cast include Cyril Couton (My Best Friend), Patrick Descamps (Versailles), Constance Dollé (The Returned), Yann Goven (Suite Noire), Martin Loizillon (Maison Close) François Loriquet (Paris), Antoine Mathieu (Code Unknown), Fabrizio Rongione (Violette), and Richard Sammel (Inglourious Basterds), amongst many others.
The entirety of the first season will be available on MHz Choice, MHz’s new subscription video-on-demand service, beginning 3 May 2015.
Read more about MHz Choice here.