The Break aka La Treve – Now On Netflix

Have you ever been to or driven through the Ardennes?

Do you know where the Ardennes are? Though I knew the name, I had to look them up to be able to place them on a map. The Ardennes are a hilly and forested area that is mostly in South East Belgium. but also included a part of Northern France and Luxembourg.

The Ardennes, specifically the small town of Heiderfeld, Belgium is the location of a new offering from Netflix. The original title was La Treve which is French for ‘The Truce’, but Netflix has chosen to call this 10 episode series ‘The Break’.

In fact La Treve’s English translation can almost mean something like:

A break in the hostilities
A respite
A ceasefire
or peace.

Which fits the series exactly. Here’s a version of the story line for La Treve:

The body of 19-year-old Driss Assani, above, who is a young African from Togo, recruited to play soccer for the Heiderfeld football club,

is pulled out of the river Semois, a short distance from Heiderfeld, a small town of a few thousand inhabitants in the Belgian Ardennes. The police investigation is led by Inspector Yoann Peeters, who has recently moved there after a personal domestic tragedy and a professional one as well. Peeters is aided by Sebastian Drummer, an idealistic and inexperienced young police officer.

Left to Right: Peeters, Drummer, and the bearded Police Chief.

Left to Right: Peeters, Drummer, and the bearded Police Chief.

Peeters is adamant that the death was not a suicide, as in a leap from the local bridge. That’s Peeters on the bridge in the image below.

The suicide idea was formulated by the local chief of police, who, likely – above all other considerations, wanted to keep the peace, close the case, and not stir things up.

At this point, there’s a flash forward, and we find that Detective Peeters is in a psychiatric hospital and is under going an evaluation. We have no idea why.

And that is the basis for the series. It is sort of like a TV series told in separate layers:

The Present time: The murder investigation as led by Peeters
The Past: The fact of how Driss was killed is shown in different perspectives as new suspects come into play
The Future: Peeters is in a psych ward.

I kind of liked the show as it seemed to be drawn from the British series Broadchurch. In the British show, a new cop came into a British coastal town with some baggage which included a problematic situation as a policeman in another jurisdiction, Yoann Peters is in the same situation as he headed up the disastrous Operation Berger, which led to four police officers being killed in Brussels.

Peeters is played by an actor called Yoann Blanc. Peeters is intense and driven, to put it mildly. In addition, he is popping antidepressants and amphetamines. It is obvious that while he seems over his wife’s passing, and the infamous Operation Berger, the affair in Brussels, externally – in reality, he’s still a struggling work in progress.

But if only it was just a lead detective struggling to solve a case, and overcome his personal demons at the same time. Heiderfeld is a small town but there’s a lot going on beneath the surface. In no particular order there’s the issue of teenage drug use and sex, an ambitious dam project that will require some locals to give up their lands and homes, a crooked soccer coach who has a history of fixing games, and the soccer players are still waiting for their signing bonuses.

There’s a hermit like guy who lives in the woods. He’s called Indian Jeff and he is who the police like as the killer. Then we have a young man, the son of diplomats, who throws wild parties involved sex and drugs. There’s an older fellow who has his own museum of Nazi paraphernalia and artifacts. Let’s not forget a woman who twenty years prior was Peeter’s girl friend.

Want more?

The assistant soccer coach is gay and maybe having sex with under-aged teenage men. The chief of police might be inept and/or corrupt.

Peeters partner in the investigation, Sebastian Drummer, is a kind of shy guy, and he is in no position to contradict or argue the case with his senior Peeters. He is also awkward socially.

Peeters daughter Camille (above) is like a fish out of water. She’s a city girl and being asked to live with her Dad in a small town in the Ardennes is difficult for her. We should not be surprised when she falls in with the wrong crowd.

As I said, just like in Broadchurch, the deeper the detective investigates, the more suspects appear. However we should all keep in mind that having unsavory connections, or  a shady past, or having secrets that are both anti-social and desperate do not automatically make you a murderer.

But Yoann has an even darker view. He believes that one need not show signs. His core belief as a cop, is that any one of us is capable of murder.

Detectives Peeters and Drummer on the case

Detectives Peeters and Drummer on the case

You’ll like the look of the Ardennes and the creative ways that the director utilizes the in between the scenes transitional shots. As a long time city dweller, I always liked to get out of Manhattan and go for a drive into the nearby country and take hikes in the woods. I still like to do that, even though I am no longer living anywhere near New York. So, being able to spend a good deal of time in the Ardennes was something I appreciated.

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I am happy to recommend the series, but with a small advisory. The last few episodes are exceeding bleak and dark. There’s a good amount of violence in nearly all the episodes but especially so as we approach the end.. Frankly, and correctly, this is not a series to watch with younger children.


17 thoughts on “The Break aka La Treve – Now On Netflix

    • Okay – I understand that. I currently avoid all films that are considered tales of horror.

      But maybe I should clarify –
      First it is only the last couple of episodes, second I meant that there’s a sense of shock when you consider what people are capable of doing. The key is that it is clearly NOT ALL people. And as we know, we already have that in real life, as some people will do and are capable of anything. But are a distinct minority.

      And third, the series does end on an upbeat.

    • Maybe it played on Belgian TV first, that is in October 2015, and you missed it. After which it was sold to Netflix. I live in the US so I have no certainty about that. Thanks for the comment.

  1. I liked it, but didn’t understand the ending. Supposedly, before he arrives at the cabin on the lake, Driss has been: 1) Hit by a car that the mayor’s son was driving–or maybe the assistant soccer coach was driving, I forget. 2) He’s been dragged into the woods and then bludgeoned over the head with the butt of a shovel or gun or something, again, forgot the details. But now, at the end, we see him at the cabin hoping Camille’s friend, his secret girlfriend, will show up–and he looks entirely uninjured. What’s up with that?

    • Thanks for the comment –

      I believe this show followed some sort of plan where the time line was always manipulated. In short I’m saying that this series did not follow a strict ‘start-to-finished’ sequence. Meaning it was not a straight linear progression. They were always jumping ahead then jumping back. Characters or should I say new suspects – would be introduced, then there would be a flashback involving the suspect and Driss.

      It seemed to work. But with the ending – the killer being the gf – seemingly they concealed her involvement so they could spring a surprise ending on us.

      Admittedly, it WAS confusing.

  2. SPOILER: I fully enjoyed watching this series with all its twists and turns but the end truly had me shaking my head in confusion. Were the police coming for her or did he decide to go down for her and basically was saying goodbye to his daughter??

    • Hi Carolynne –

      Thanks for the comment. I’ve no idea about Jeff’s dog. As for the psycho rich kid, I believe he was the son of foreign diplomats. Those parents were most likely in Brussels (as diplomats) most of the time. The house in Heiderfeld was used by the son (as he wished). Being an offspring of members of the diplomatic corp – he would have had immunity

      • I can’t imagine that film crews would intentionally kill a dog. There would be an enormous outcry from Animal Rights activists.
        Not to mention a legal or criminal investigations. Up to an including a boycott.

      • Ok,
        if so MIke why do we not know what happened to it. The dog on the wall looks like it is the dog beforehand.

  3. Thank you for this. I have been watching this show for the French, and boy, have I learned a lot of new slang! But it’s seriously creepy and it’s starting t to give me bad dreams. (Quite like Les Revenants)
    I’ve been trying to find a good synopsis so I can get an idea how it turns out, and thus let go and stop watching!
    It wasn’t comprehensive, but it was enough. Thank god!

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