Spiral TV series [Engrenages] is a French detective drama that focuses on Public Prosecutor Pierre Clément and the local police department headed by Chief Inspector Laure Berthaud. Recently separated from his wife, Clément (played by Grégory Fitoussi) has a rapport with both Berthaud and defence lawyer Joséphine Karlsson (Audrey Fleurot). It’s certainly interesting to note the difference between the legal system in France and those of the UK and US – no wigs in court, but an odd flouncy bit on the front of the robe (there are, of course, less trivial comparisons to be drawn).
In Series 1 the storyline that continues throughout centres on the deaths of two sisters from Eastern Europe and the connection between them and Clément’s childhood friend Benoit Faye. The plot is interesting and there is plenty of action in every episode. There is a selection of diverse and intriguing characters, from Judge Roban, whose habit of tapping his fingers against his thumb makes him appear calculating and preoccupied, to the police officer Gilou, whose drug habit makes his actions erratic and unpredictable.
The plot has plenty of twists and turns and corruption is rife. (Maybe France is too dangerous a country to move to after all!) The show is gritty. It’s not pretty to look at, but it isn’t meant to be. The style of filming – fast-paced, almost hand-held camera effect – helps to create a tense atmosphere appropriate for the subject matter. Murder is not sugar coated or glamorised in this drama, it’s quite dark without being gruesome.
Potential for learning French: – Admittedly, the dialogue is peppered with legal term and language related to arresting and prosecuting people – which may very well come in handy should I get myself into any trouble! However, there is a good deal of everyday language with minimal expletives, not too much mumbling or shouting.