'La Révolution' Review: Too many liberties and supernatural elements make thriller somewhat poor in taste
Sometimes, pieces of history should be left to be remembered through their facts because traces of truth still live on
Spoilers for 'La Révolution'
If you're impressed with the unfolding of history, you might see 'La Révolution' either in a positive light or in an uncomfortable one. Promoted as "reimagined history" of the French Revolution, the series portrays 18the century a dangerous disease that rampaged through 18th century France. It follows the future inventor of the Guillotine execution device, French surgeon Dr Joseph-Ignace Guillotin as he investigates the disease named 'Blue Blood' that allows for the aristocracy to murder commoners. While the "brutal clash between rebels and the aristocracy" may be appealing for some, fans of history may it odd how the show falls away from history of the actual French Revolution. Of course, this is a thriller/mystery show and so the "reimagined history" brings the thrill. But otherwise, it feels like an audacious recycled version of a show on some plague.
Created by Aurélien Molas who is also known for 'Red Creek', the series unfolds in a rather presumptuous manner where Guillotin discovers the virus Blue Blood which after spreading across the French aristocracy leads to a predictable rebellion. The premise of the series, we would assume, would be for the audience to question as to what would have happened if the French Revolution didn't unfold the way we read in history books?
It's safe to say the key historic moments of the French Revolution were embellished into a fantasy script. The series is set in Montargis, a French county in 1787, and centers around two main characters for most of its run time — Élise de Montargis (Marilou Aussilloux) and Joseph-Ignace Guillotin (Amir El Kacem). Élise, a noblewoman, sympathizes with commoners, while Guillotin plays a detective when it came to the mysterious murders taking over Montargis.
While his skills get him closer to an impending truth (which we can't tell you, because that would ruin the 8 episodes), he and Élise get entangled in a conspiracy that — wait for it — has supernatural elements (not zombies, this time) that begin a revolution. We want to see this as an epic script, but all we can say is that the fight scenes are worth the watch, so are the costumes and definitely the cinematography. Other than that, we wish they stuck to the actual events of the French Revolution.
We have to add that the characters were given impeccable time and effort — there is no ill to be said about the actors' delivery either. With backdrops and imagery that take your breath away and the potency of the harsh contrast of themes and costumes with perfectly picked colors — it's simply beautiful. As said earlier, the cinematography is definitely to be appreciated. It gives the thriller a bit of a shocker as scenes, even though vile, were executed to almost perfection. That's of course, our opinion, but we would have wished that the talented artists were given a script that would have better suited their skills. You may be wondering if the historical inaccuracies are jarring? Well, no, if you aren't keen on facts or haven't studied the French Revolution in a history lesson. Yes, if you have the slightest clue on how that era is considered to be one of the biggest climaxes in European history.
One must remember that this is a fiction told using the backdrop of an era that made a very decadent mark in history. It lacks the importance that the era deserved and rather shone quite brightly with impudent fantasy so the attention of an audience can be captured. The series is meant for an international audience, and while we're usually a fan of Netflix's international genre releases, this may have been done in a bit of poor taste. Revising history comes with its pros and cons — one is given a chance to bring present creativity and originality to a different time, but it also should bring a realization of the amount of suffering that the real event brought.
Yes, the series is storytelling at its best, with the addition of shocks, twists, and turns that spice up a plotline. But while liberties are there to be taken, being sensitive to key events that affected many lives is common sense, we would say. In fact, we'd be surprised if others don't notice the glaring fact that the series could simply have done better. Sometimes, pieces of history should be left to be remembered through their facts because traces of truth still live on.
While the script may have been disappointing, and the narrative a bit predictably derivative, it's almost hilarious to watch the fictional thriller take liberties as we stay on lockdown in our homes because of a pandemic. It makes you wonder, how will 2020 be re-told if it were "reimagined"? Hopefully, it won't have a supernatural aspect, yet again.
'La Révolution' is now available to stream on Netflix.