Unlike many films which show France as a beautiful and idyllic fantasyland, these French-language police procedurals are willfully tough and dreary. But that’s not a bad thing! For those that love CSI and SVU, not to mention the recent crop of Scandinavian crime shows which have been invading our screens, these streaming French shows are a great way to practice learning French painlessly. Although we hope that you never have occasion to use autopsie, victime du meurtre, or l’arme du crime….
And, as always, don’t forget to sign up for our next round of French classes beginning in March.
The Break (La trêve)
Matthieu Donck (2016, Belgium), Netflix
This Belgian crime show mixes dream and reality, past and present into an almost Lynchian brew. When a jaded detective returns to the Belgian village of his youth, he is almost immediately greeted by a crime. The suicide of a young soccer star is quickly revealed to be suicide, and as our hero delves deeper into the crime, he discovers a seedy small-town underbelly which is pulling in even the people he loves the most…
Witnesses (Les témoins)
Hervé Hadmar, Marc Herpoux (2014, France), Netflix
In a coastal French town, the bodies of a dead family are found in an empty house. Does the former chief-of-police know something about their deaths? Two detectives are in a race to find out the dangerous truth. Many intertwining plots will keep you guessing all the way through.
Alice Chegaray-Breugnot, Grégoire Demaison, Nicolas Jean (2017, France), Netflix
This series turns the standard police procedural on its head. Our lead investigator is an incarcerated female serial killer known as La Mante (the Mantis). After twenty years of solitary confinement, she agrees to help the police (led by her son, who has become a detective) find out who is committing a series of murders imitating her style. Together, this unlikely team tries to decode the mystery before more people die.