Following on from the Darkplace Marathon and included in the price of the ticket was an opportunity to watch the first season of a French show called "The Returned". I knew nothing of the show having missed it when shown on channel 4 last year but on friends' recommendations I decided to give it a go.
The story tells the tale of a small community where the town's dead come back to life. Yes, it sounds like a zombie flick but these undead just want to pick up their lives where they left off and it's more a story around family bonds, love and heart ache than gore and eating brains (there's none of that).
I had been forewarned that the pace may be too slow, which is not what you need on an 8-hour overnight marathon, but I was hooked from the first episode and completely carried by the story so much that I didn't have to resort to drinking any of the red bull I'd taken along for the night.
The cinematography was superb with the location set within in the mountains giving it a little Twin Peaks touch, also mirrored in the characters all having secrets that gradually get aired. I read a comment that with French productions that excel you can pause most scenes and they'll look like paintings. That comment has stuck with me and completely applied here. The effort made in shot composition and lighting particularly impressed me. Acting performances were top notch particularly with the younger cast. Jenna Thaim as Lena seems to have been picked out as the standout performance but I thought Celine Sallette as Julie's performance was stronger. I do feel sorry for Swann Nabotin who now seems destined to play creepy child for the rest of his childhood career on the strength of his performance here.
The story itself was fine, and seeing all the episodes together probably made it easier to keep the threads of the story together. Yes, there were lots of unanswered questions at the end but I didn't feel cheated as I did with Lost, and it now means I have to watch out for season 2 which is now starting filming. I'm aware there are remakes in both America and the UK being considered; I'll hold fire on those until I get through the French one first.