Starting today, Euro TV fans in the US can fire up Acorn TV for the hit French drama series that gripped France 2 and BBC 4 viewers: mystery drama The Disappearance.
Let me say from the off that The Disappearance (Disparue) is a can’t-miss missing-person mystery that demands binge-watching until, if not through, the closing credits.
Set in Lyon and based on the award-winning Spanish miniseries Desaparecida (aka Missing, available on DramaFever), The Disappearance delivers a raw look at the emotional devastation experienced by a middle-class French family when the middle child seemingly vanishes into thin air.
Add to this the twists and turns of the police investigation carried out by un flic with a complicated personal life, and you have a dark, compelling, and riveting character-driven drama that keeps you glued to the telly.
The eight-part drama starts off innocently enough: The young and beautiful Léa Morel (newcomer Camille Razat) goes out for a night on the town with friends to celebrate her upcoming 18th birthday. Only she doesn’t come home, even with an extended curfew.
Hours pass and still no Léa, prompting her now frantic parents Florence (2015 Séries Mania Best Actress award winner Alix Poisson, The Returned, The Collection) and Julien Morel (Pierre-François Martin-Laval, Les profs) to report their daughter as missing after their own search for her is fruitless.
Commander Bertrand Molina (César Awards nominee François-Xavier Demaison, Coluche: l’histoire d’un mec), newly-arrived in Lyon from Paris, heads up the missing-person case. A sympathetic but still all-business detective, he’s a divorcé with a headstrong teen-aged daughter and ex-wife living in the area, and a capable, eat-on-the-go sidekick in Lieutenant Camille Guérin (Alice Pol, Mafiosa).
As hours turn into days of no news about their missing daughter, Julien, in moments appearing as if he’s about to break into a million pieces, carries out his own investigation, while the utterly distraught Flo puts on a brave and stoic front in an attempt to return to a normal life despite the circumstances. It doesn’t take long for their heartache, uncertainty, and individual ways of coping to morph in various forms of ugliness, resulting in family closeness giving way to distance, blame, and guilt.
All of this, though, doesn’t mean the police haven’t made progress. Molina and Guérin’s inquiries end up revealing secrets, half-truths, and outright lies, which complicate the case even further and add more fuel to the Morels’ already-raging emotional fires. And what the parents come to realize is that they didn’t know Léa as well as they thought.
It’s brilliant stuff, The Disappearance.
The red herrings and investigation dead ends will leave you guessing, but it’s the character development that will have you feel compassion in one moment, utter contempt in the next, and back again.
Costarring in The Disappearance are Laurent Bateau (Un village français) as Jean Morel, Julien’s widowed brother; Zoé Marchal (Lolo) as Chris, Jean’s daughter; Maxime Taffanel (Résistance) as Thomas, the Morels’ son; Stella Trotonda (The Night Watchmen) as Zoé, their youngest child; Léo Legrand (Caïn) as Romain Jamond-Valette, Léa’s boyfriend; Muriel Combeau (Doc Martin) as Sophie, Léa’s godmother; and Myra Tyliann (After Fall, Winter) as Rose Molina, Bertrand’s daughter.
A production of Quad Television (The Intouchables), The Disappearance is written by the team of Marie Deshaires and Catherine Touzet (Détectives), produced by Iris Bucher (Le secret d’Elise), and directed by Charlotte Brändström (Wallander, Johan Falk). Frans Bak scored the music, and French pop-rock band Elephanz perform their (addictive) hit single “Time For a Change” in the drama.
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