REVIEW: Marseille – Season One (2016)

Marseille Reviewed

The following is a review of the Netflix Original Show about French politics: Marseille.

In mid-to-late 2014 Netflix arrived in France, and by now the streaming service has pretty much gone global. It was only a matter of time before Netflix catered directly to the French-speaking audience by producing a show centered in France, with the French language at the forefront, available everywhere. Marseille is the newest political drama, following in the footsteps of American shows like House of Cards and Boss, as well as the Danish show Borgen

Marseille follows Robert Taro (played by Gérard Depardieu) who has been the mayor of Marseille for 20 years. Taro is preparing to step down, and end his political career by passing the torch to his political protégé Lucas Barres (played by Benoît Magimel). One of Taro’s final actions as mayor is to revamp the port of Marseille by getting a project promising a casino approved. But the mafia has no interest in a casino, and Taro’s strongest ally is reconsidering his loyalty to Taro. He is no puppet for Taro to control.

I am always drawn towards political dramas, and when you add a bit of corruption into the show you usually have me hooked to the show. Therefore Marseille should have been my new favorite show, and I was actually looking forward to these eight episodes. But there are just so many things about the show that left me wishing they had tried a little bit harder with it.

Marseille isn’t unwatchable, not at all, but it disappoints on so many levels. It would not be wrong to state that this show seems to have gone for style over substance. The show opens with a pretty cool shot of a blue-tinted hallway, and Depardieu’s character snorting cocaine in front of a picture celebrating Olympique Marseille somewhere inside the Stade Vélodrome.

But that’s really the only cool stylistic choice I wrote about in my notes. There is an overabundance of slow-motion sequences and almost echoing voice-overs. The show is pretty predictable, and overdramatic. But my biggest issue with the show is the musical score. The musical score is overdramatic, clumsy, and heavy-handed.

It isn’t all bad though. Gérard Depardieu does a really good job here, and is perfectly believable as a family man and an experienced politician saturated by the political stage. And when the show doesn’t rely on slow-motion it is very pretty. But there isn’t much to love here, and I cannot recommend the show when there are so many great political dramas out there.


– I’m Jeffrey Rex

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