I’m almost halfway through the La Trêve, a Belgium murder mystery (10 episodes) and I still haven’t figured out what it’s about. The story starts off clearly enough. A newly widowed policeman with a checkered past moves with his teenage daughter to a town where he lived for several years as a child. He’s hoping for some down time, but before he can even report for duty he’s called to the site of a suicide (an African player in the town’s very bad fourth rate soccer team). He quickly realizes it’s not a suicide after all.
Most of the landscapes in La Trêve are prettier than this, really.
After the first couple of episodes I thought it might be (like the great Icelandic show ‘Trapped’) about modernity and globalization (the African migrant in the middle of the countryside in French speaking Belgium) and capital flooding and erasing the past (there’s a big-money project to create a dam that would submerge a lot of the surroundings). Now… I’m not so sure.
What I have noticed is the contrast between the public and private. The show takes place in an idyllic wooded corner of Wallonia and has hypnotically beautiful landscapes and arresting images (one of a small town at night with a lighted cathedral on a hill under massive storm clouds and framed by phone lines was my favorite). But the interiors are cramped an ugly, filled with an excess of cheap crap that can’t be put in any kind of aesthetic order. And the actors all look all too real, kind of beat up by life and not Hollywoodish at all in their ill-fitting cheap clothes, bad hair and ugly-sordid sexual encounters.
The European style known as poubelle blanche…
When I say I’m not sure what’s going on I mean the overall theme of the show beyond the murder. I’m kind of sure I have a good idea of who did it, though (again like Trapped) uncovering it won’t be cathartic at all, but traumatic and painful.