French passion for cinema is legendary. There is a reason why the world's premier film festival is held in France each year with Cannes, and that the French TV festival Séries Mania dominates the emerging TV festival scene: The French revere screen culture.
Building on the French reputation for producing some of the world's very best cinema, it should come as very little surprise that with the rise of premium TV globally, France has quietly been emerging as one of the powerhouse regions for high quality television.
Right now, French TV is having a moment that echoes the rise of the great Scandi series we have all been obsessing over for the past decade. The TV coming from France right now is mature, gripping, and extremely confident.
At SBS On Demand you can stream some of the very best French TV dramas:
Based on real accounts from French spies, this gritty series reveals what life is like for the deep cover agents that put their lives on the line in the so-called 'Bureau of Legends' a clandestine branch of the French secret service.
"The Bureau ... is moody, cynical and stylish, with the pace and disjunctive tics of an art-house film."
-Mike Ryan, New York Times
"It’s smoothly surfaced and subtly shaded down to the last moue, side glance, and eyebrow inflection, more of a slow-burning-fuse series than a constant jolter. Its chess-master absorption in the ongoing game between opposing governments, spy agencies, ideological factions, and individual opportunistic players places it closer to the original Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley’s People than to more overtly bravado exercises, which is a plus if, like me, you think that the Alec Guinness Smileys are among TV’s greatest achievements."
-James Wolcott, Vanity Fair
The French President is victim of an attack. The investigation ordered by the Prime Minister gets underway and leans towards a terrorist attack. Meanwhile, Simon Kapita, a former communications advisor to the President comes to his bedside...
"Perfect for TV politicoholics, this French drama has murder, sex and poetry – and the politicians play second fiddle to the beautiful spin doctors and speechwriters".
-Mark Lawson, The Guardian
Ouro: Amazon Gold
Vincent, a 20-year-old geology student from Paris, travels deep into the Amazonian jungles of French Guyana for an internship at a gold mining company. Taken under the wing of local gold lord Antoine Serra, Vincent quickly falls into the much more lucrative and more dangerous world of gold trafficking.
"The approach of [creator] Fabien Nury is more raw, but this exoticism, in the good sense of the word, has something to fascinate."
-Colin Niel, Le Temps [translated]
Binge on this celebrated French crime thriller that mixes high-octane thrills with a serious examination of corruption. Season four is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
"Spiral is a dark, unsettling police/judicial drama set in the grotty banlieues of Paris; and it is about as compelling as telly ever, ever gets."
-Polly Vernon, The Guardian
"Spiral remains one of the most compelling dramas on TV: a gritty exploration of urban France that gets better with each new season."
-Jennifer O'Mahony, The Telegraph
The Frozen Dead
A horrific discovery in a small town nestled high in the French Pyrenees begins to unravel a dark mystery that has been hidden for years.
"This show is expertly directed by Laurent Herbiet as well as being beautifully photographed by Dominique Bouilleret who both use the geographic location of the Pyrenees, as not only a unique backdrop for the action but also incorporate it as a character to visually show the audience the kind of isolation that each of the separate characters are going through as they progress through the main story as well their own separate narratives."
French thriller serial about a missing teenager. As the police investigate, the girl's friends and family are revealed as a suspicious set of characters, each with secrets of their own.
"It felt a bit like driving up one of those never-ending roads east of Lyon into the Alps, hairpin after hairpin."
-Sam Wollastan, The Guardian