Oh, the stuff that happens in a small lakeside town. It’s enough to make you binge-watch the entire season of Vanished by the Lake in one sitting like I did.
Reminiscent of the first season of Broadchurch but with a French twist, Vanished by the Lake (Le mystère du lac) is a binge-worthy new Euro TV arrival on this side of the Atlantic.
It stars Barbara Schulz (The Blacklist, Fais pas ci, fais pas ça) as Lise Stocker, the youngest crime squad captain in the Paris CID and the daughter of a deceased flic and Marianne Stocker (Marie-Anne Chazel, The Well-Digger’s Daughter), who’s now in decline from Alzheimer’s.
On the day Lise arrives back in her picturesque hometown in the Sainte-Croix region to care for her mum, the parents of 16-year-old Chloé Delval go to Chief of Police Clovis Bouvier (Lannick Gautry, Maison Close) to declare her missing. Chloé didn’t return home after the festival the night before and no one has seen her since, leaving Karine (Armelle Deutsch, Pigalle, la nuit) and Hervé Delval (Cyril Lecomte, Caïn) panicked and the town buzzing.
Fifteen years earlier, Ana and Marion — Lise’s best friends — also vanished without a trace and were presumed dead, despite the fact that their bodies were never found. And regardless of his pleas of innocence, Rémi Bouchard (Vincent Deniard, The Passenger) spent the last decade and a half in prison for their murders. That he was released just two months ago is either really bad coincidental timing or Rémi picked up with Chloé where he left off with the previous two victims.
Once again, Rémi insists he’s innocent. But there is damning evidence against him.
Police Commander Serge Joufroy (Philippe Duquesne, Contraband), who was Lise’s father’s partner back in the day, convinces Clovis to let Lise join the investigation in an unofficial capacity — because of, and despite, her knowing the three victims. He comes to regret this later, but I get ahead of myself…
As the narrative unfolds, what gets revealed slowly, teasingly, are townspeople’s secrets, lies, and cover-ups (and Lise’s, too) — motives for wanting to off Chloé.
The various threads are intriguing — from the relationship between Lise and her mum and the curious comments Marianne blurts out to her daughter about events past and present, to Lise’s involvement in the case, the suspicions she develops, and the details she uncovers. In and of themselves, they are reason enough to keep watching. Driving the point home are the tantalizing cliffhangers that close the episodes. And the scenery: gorgeous.
Directed by Jérôme Cornuau (The Passenger), the six-part miniseries features Claire Borotra (Antigone 34) as Mayor Patricia Mazaud, Laurent Bateau (The Disappearance) as her schoolteacher husband Nicolas Mazaud, Émilie Caen (Magellan) as pharmacist Valérie Fournont, Arié Elmaleh (La stagiaire) as Doctor Thomas Mézières, and Charlie Joirkin (Duel au soleil) as Chloé.
Vanished by the Lake, which premiered in the US yesterday, is now streaming exclusively at Walter Presents US.
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