must be one of those island prejudices. They do not think much of cops on Ty
Kern, even when one of them is Marie Kermeur, the belle of the isle. She has
returned home from Brest to marry her childhood sweetheart, but when dead
family members start piling up, she insists on getting all detectivey in the
six-part French miniseries Dolmen,
which is now available on DVD from MHz Network.
Kersaint and Le Bihan families are like the Montagues and Capulets of Ty Kern.
The Kermeurs are civil with both, but you would not say they are close. Something
happened way back when that tied the island families together. Everyone seems
to know about it, except Marie, le flic. Her family is delighted to have her
back on Ty Kern for her wedding to racing skipper Christian Bréhat, but they
are just as eager to see her on her way. However, when her brother Gildas has a
fatal misadventure near the island’s druid stone circle, Kermeur smells a rat.
the circumstances surrounding his death are quite suspicious. For instance, one
of the menhir stones starts bleeding his blood shortly after the murder (as
foul play is soon established). Kermeur is also slightly agitated by her
nightmare that sort of presaged his death. Initially, Kermeur is pulled from
the case, for obvious reasons. Of
course, she quickly insinuates her way back into the investigation, because
none of the locals will talk to Maj. Lucas Fersen, the hotshot officer
dispatched from Brest.
terms of tone, Dolmen is something of
a throwback to the if-I-had-only-known novels of Mary Roberts Rinehart.
Frankly, the series’ willingness to kill off Kermeurs is quite impressive, a
bit like Game of Thrones in that
limited respect. There is no getting around the melodrama of a bride-to-be
mourning a brother and learning no end of deep dark family secrets. Still,
series writers Nicole Jamet and Marie-Anne Le Pezennec make the most of the
eerie Breton locales, incorporating supernatural legends and purported cult
activity into the mix. In fact, for most of the series, it is an open question
whether the happenings really are of an occult nature or whether there will be
a tidy Scooby-Doo explanation for it all.
boys should keep in mind Dolmen is
the product of French television, because Marie Kermeur is the sort of cop who
can give men interrogation fantasies. Popular TV star Ingrid Chauvin truly has
supermodel looks and soap opera thesp chops, but Dolmen arguably plays to her strengths in both respects. She also works
out some decent chemistry with Bruno Madiner’s Festen, who steadily grows on
viewers as he sheds his by-the-book stiffness.
a Twin Peaks off the Brittany coast, Dolmen is chocked full of colorfully cranky
supporting characters, but by far the most intriguing is Patrick Ryan, an Irish
mystery novelist and expert in Celtic lore, played with flair and gravity by
Yves Rénier. French cinema connoisseurs will also be surprised to see Hippolyte
Girardot appears as the churlish Kersaint heir apparent, but does not get his
name in the opening credits. In fact, he is totally on the money as the
resentful Pierre-Marie, but his character is not given much to do besides
glower and sulk until episodes five and six. Likewise, Nicole Croiselle makes a
great villain as Yvonne Le Bihan, somewhat looking and sounding like Cloris
Leachman in Young Frankenstein, but always
playing it scrupulously straight. On the downside, Chick Ortega’s portrayal of
the developmentally disabled Pierric Le Bihan is pretty darn cringey.
has enough mystery, intrigue, and windswept
longing to seduce even the snobbiest viewers. Technically, there is even a
ripped bodice, which is appropriate considering the series’ romantic mass
market appeal. It is definitely really fun stuff (tailor made for binge
viewing), like a slightly more gothic and popcorn-ish Broadchurch, with way more attractive leads. Recommended for those
who enjoy French scandal, Dolmen is now
available on DVD from MHz Networks.
Labels: DVD, French Television, Ingrid Chauvin