When the badly beaten body of a young Romanian woman is discovered on a Parisian rubbish dump, the investigation plunges us deep into the murky worlds of prostitution, drugs, business, politics and justice... The investigation is led by Pierre Clement, a young recently-named public prosecutor, who teams up with Police Captain Laure Bathaud and investigating magistrate Judge Roban - three indomitable characters with their own methods, beliefs, demons and visions of justice. As the young woman's identity and past life are gradually uncovered, it soon becomes apparent that her story is tied to a network of corruption touching the very people charged with uncovering the truth about her.
Really, really good
- Spiral: Series 1 review by RP
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You rated this film: 5
After watching the excellent French cop series 'Braquo' I went looking for more in the same vein, and came across the most excellent TV series 'Spiral'. This had previously been shown on BBC4 but I missed it there :(
The English title doesn't give much of a clue about the content - the original title is 'Engrenages' which translates better as 'gears' or 'cogs', and perhaps 'enmeshed' as in how gears engage gives a better sense of the characters and storyline.
First let me say again that it really is excellent. Not only is the story gripping but the characterisation is excellent with sufficient details about both working and personal lives to make you care. Added to that, the series gave a rarely seen view (perhaps inevitably coloured through the eyes of a TV series) of a different justice system. France has an inquisitorial justice system rather than the adversarial system of England. In 'Spiral' this is shown by an examining judge (juge d'instruction) instructing the police in the course of a serious criminal case, meeting all parties and investigating and hearing evidence from the various sides, and deciding whether to send the case to trial. I found this difference in the English and French judicial systems quite fascinating to watch. I understand that in real life only a small proportion of cases are dealt with directly by a judge in this fashion - but hey, this is TV.
As far the storyline, it goes something like this... The badly disfigured body of a young woman is found in a skip. An autopsy reveals the clue that she may be of Eastern European origin. A missing person report leads to her sister (who is still missing) and to activities as a high class call girl, the sister's body is found, and the case leads further to a case of sexual corruption at the highest level. Throughout the series a number of quite disturbing images are shown of bodies and autopsies and this, together with other assorted violence and the subject matter rate this as certificate 18 material.
The characters are very well played - the baddies are violent, the goodies are human and likeable, and there are ambivalent, flawed characters, including a coked-up police officer and a defence lawyer who strays onto the side of the baddies. The dialogue is fast moving (too fast and colloquial for my limited French) and the subtitles are in proper English, not American.
The central thread of the story remains throughout, but each episode contains snippets from other cases which gives a rich feel to the series. There are 2 discs, 4 x 50min episodes on each. I found it gripping and watched Disc 1 straight through in one session; there was a delay of a few days until Disc 2 arrived, and again I watched that in a single session. Well directed, well written, well constructed plot, well filmed, good locations - and excellent acting. Really, really good.
I rated Series 1 of 'Braquo' of one of the best cop thriller series I have seen: while 'Spiral' is different - it's not a thriller, but is just as gripping - I rate it as even better. Superb stuff - 5/5 stars - highly recommended.
Just came across the Spiral series recently on BBC Four, then discovered it was Series 5. So happy to find Series 1-4 on Cinema Paradiso!
Only watched Series 1 of those so far but already it filled in a lot of gaps for Series 5 that I'd been wondering about. It's just such a clever, exciting tv series where the characters are really well developed and all the acting is great! Plus, I'm trying to improve my French, so good for that too!