Thursday, 11 July 2013

'THE RETURNED', 9pm Channel 4, 7 July 2013


Twin Peaks with garlic instead of cherry pie, Channel 4’s
The Returned
looks like it will reward audience loyalty.

Miaow! (Image courtesy Channel 4)
I’d heard good word of mouth on this enigmatic French series and read some intriguing pieces on it in the press. After the tennis on Sunday, which was so emotionally tense I nearly chewed my knuckles off, I thought as a gentle come down I should give this superior-sounding gallic import a go, 3 episodes in or not.

What did I see? ‘Seven years earlier’, an on screen caption told me, someone – ‘Victor’ (?) – is hunting a man he’s kept locked up. A girl in a fetish mask who brings to mind Catwoman is kidnapped, injured and left at a hospital. There’s a lot of night driving under neon lights. Victor (?) gets his man, drives out to the countryside (at night) and digs a big hole. The distressed killer (?) starts wailing ‘Mum! Mum!’ until Victor (?) hits him with a spade. Cut to Victor (?) smoothing over a filled-in hole.

So far, so Blood Simple. Things get more intriguing when the opening titles announce that Welsh indie rock innovators Mogwai have done all the music. A definite plus.

In the present day, it looks like we’re in the beautiful wide open spaces of rural France. A girl who might or might not be joking about being a vampire fancies the obligatory not-interested (yet) high school hottie. A small boy with a remarkably mature face, looking like a shrunken man, ‘sees’ people who aren’t there (I think). In the local lake, there’s a submerged village and the church steeple can be seen at low tide (tide? In a lake?) In a brilliantly photographed sequence, frogmen investigate the ruins and find an assortment of dead animals floating in the water – deer, a fox, dogs (?) Eerie and striking. Appropriately for this kind of thing, a teacher is having a romantic liaison with the
local cop. 

Because of the excitement of the tennis, I have to admit I nodded off halfway through. No matter: I’m in. The third episode of The Returned (better as the much more gothic sounding Les Revenants in French) was atmospheric, weird and intriguing. It’s refreshing that it’s being shown on a major terrestrial channel and that it’s not exclusively about a moody, middle-aged police loner.

In a nutshell, Twin Peaks with garlic. Hit!

1 comment:

  1. you must see it from the beginning Robert....I found it became increasingly murky and provocatively mysterious right through to the village of the dam(m)ed ending - fabulous :-)