One of the best things about the rise of streaming platforms is how they’ve made it easier than ever for people to watch international content. Gone are the days when those interested in a show from abroad would have to root around specialist stores for an imported DVD that required a region-free player to watch. Now, everything is available at the click of a button. This means that some great international shows are dominating the streaming charts.
One such show is Laëtitia. This French show is currently the 6th most popular show on HBO Max, according to figures released by FlixPatrol, putting it above popular English titles like The Manifest and Game Of Thrones.
Release in 2020 Laëtitia is a six-part miniseries that was originally broadcast on the France 2 channel. It is a mystery drama that is based on a real extremely famous murder case. When Laëtitia, an 18-year-old girl, vanishes a mere 50 meters from her home, the police and her family quickly spring into action to try and find her. The police soon arrest Tony Meilhon, a known criminal. However, while Meilhon seems guilty, the police can’t find Laëtitia’s body, making them unsure about their ability to move further.
While this happens, the case catches the public eye, and soon all eyes are on the police, family, and local area as the media descends. Politicians quickly get involved, and this case becomes more complex as the justice system, social services, French society, and the situation itself is put under intense scrutiny. Forcing everyone to step carefully to make sure justice is done quickly and correctly while also spawning debates about the system that underpins the country.
In the middle of this whirlwind sits Laetitia’s family and her twin sister Jessica, who must navigate grief, anger, and the case itself, all while in the public eye. This strains their relationship and their mental health as they attempt to make sense of the dark situation they have found themselves in.
While it is based on a real case, it is more closely based on the book Laëtitia or the End of Men by historian Ivan Jablonka which turned the case into a semi-historical narrative. This series was directed and co-written by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, the visionary behind the Academy Award-winning documentary Murder on a Sunday Morning, and many other popular documentaries and TV movies. Marie Colomb does a stunning job in the titular role. She is brilliantly supported by Sophie Breyer, Yannick Choirat, Noam Morgensztern, and Kévin Azaïs, all of whom bring the emotional pathos and nuance needed to make this story work fantastically well.
Laëtitia is an amazing series. While true crime is a popular genre right now, Laëtitia goes beyond the case and looks at how French society handles and reacts to crime. Its look at the workings of the police force and how the media intersects with grief is beautifully written and performed and turns the film into a fascinating study of a national event that revealed the ideas that sit at the heart of French society.