I just finished watching a gem of a miniseries. In English it is called Witnesses, in French – Les Temoins. It aired in France in October of 2014 and is a detective story/police procedural/psychological thriller. And it was excellent.
Consisting of six one hour episodes, you can watch it with English Subtitles via streaming from Netflix. There are two detectives at the center of this story – one is a 50-ish retired chief of detectives, and the other is an early thirties female detective. They are working out of the Lille, France homicide bureau, and the crimes are committed in and around Les Treports, France, – a seacoast town on the English Channel, up the coast from Dieppe, and north by northwest of Paris.
Here is a look at the crimes: In a brand new model home (here called a show house) three bodies are discovered – all quite dead, and arranged in the homes like a family – a woman, a man, and a teenage daughter. Here’s the thing – these people are not related.
Simultaneously, fresh graves have been opened, and the bodies taken – and put into these model homes. Not once, not twice, but three times – and this is just in the first episode. The retired detective , Paul Maisonneuve is called in because a framed picture of him was found in the model house.
The lead detective is Sandra Winckler, who eight years back studied under Maisonneuve at the police academy.
Maisonneuve is retired due to an auto accident which killed his wife, and nearly killed him. After a lengthy coma, he recovered, but there were whispers of a suicide attempt. He’s a brilliant detective and when you add in his piercing blue eyes, this is an imposing cop for a criminal to deal with. His favorite interrogation technique is to have the arrested placed in a large room. There will be no table just the two video cameras. The menace of the interrogation comes because he places his chair behind the suspect’s chair.
Winckler is known as a brilliant detective as well. Her technique is to ‘charm’ the interrogated. Not quite flirtatious, but more along the lines – she’s always the ‘good cop’. But Winckler has a mind like a steel trap. As her regular detective partner, Justin says, She doesn’t miss a thing, but she’s a little odd. Everything on her desk has to be just so. We even see her rearrange a book shelf statue so it is properly angled – and this is in one of the show homes.
So fairly quickly we learn that bodies have been dug up from nearby cemeteries, and set up as if in a department store window tableau, like on display – and by the second time an article has been found – it is clear that some one is sending a message to Maisonneuve, and that he knows more than he has revealed.
Well things get really intriguing when early on it is discovered that two of the corpses were of men who had recently committed suicide.
The show features dynamic performances by Thierry Lhermitte as Paul Maisonneuve, and Maria Dompnier as Sandra Winckler. Thierry with his steely looks, and his intensity. Maria for her analytic skills, and her determination. She has good reason to wonder about the connections to Maisonneuve, and what’s more, Maisonneuve and Winckler have a history. A history that is slowly revealed about them separately as well as together.
I really liked the look of this show. The spectacular cinematography, the music, the French city on the coast looking likely a lot better in this series than in person. The director chooses his locations carefully and then offers up eye-popping visual compositions. Plus they do a terrific job of matching the music to amp up the tension which serves to magnify the stress for each of the detectives.
Have a peak at the trailer with English subtitles (scroll down a bit at the link):
Now I chose to watch this series without having seen the trailer. As I said, it is six episodes and I watched the entire series in two nights. Of course I am recommending it you have Netflix streaming account. There is a DVD out but it has not been released in the US yet.