REVIEW: La Revolution

Set in 1789, La Revolution on Neflix asks the question of what would the French Revolution look like if King Louis tricked the heads of the noble families into a state of undeath to bind them to him in lordship over the people forever, right when the people hit their breaking point. Dark and gritty, bloody and full of horrors and allegory, La Revolution is a fun bit of television until we get deep into the series and it starts to lose its way.

Before I get further into this, I am just going to outright state that I am not a historian. I have not studied the French Revolution, nor the period of time in that country, and so while I am sure there are a really tall stack of misrepresentations, artistic licence, and faux pas in the show, it is essentially a period piece meshed with the undead, so let’s move on from it, yeah?

In La Revolution a physician for the poor, an aristocrat who sees what’s coming, a brother hiding his sibling’s affliction, and a man returned from the dead tell our story. The nobles have everything and live lives of unrivalled pop and luxury, while the people scrape and struggle to survive. A revolution is boiling, waiting to explode, and our main characters give us different perspectives into the events of the nation, from investigating the local gory deaths of young women, to the machinations of the nobles as they decide whether to back the king or to support the people, to the grand plan of King Louis. Those are some damned fine bones upon which to build an engaging season of television.

The acting is excellent, the feel of the world is beautiful and the FX are downright magnificent. On a fantasy horror history feeling level, this series has everything I want to hook me in and keep me watching. The first half of the season really nailed it for me, and I pretty much could not stop watching it. However, the back end of the season quite lost my interest.

The introduction of the new Count character mid-season moved the story away from grey morality—with even the nobles’ fear of loss of power and intense (read: murderous) want to protect their own family from King Louis’ duplicity–and into the ridiculous pure evil character-style story. While this was likely an allegory for the pure evil of dictatorships / nobility and their incessant need to feed off their peasants (quite literally!), I think they had achieved that with the Count’s brother, the infighting of the nobles, the blue blood of the undead (I see what they did there), and the next level, to me, seemed unnecessary.

It really got a bit silly at the end, to be honest. The gory escalation and the drive towards the revolution was great, but the betrayals and twists got a bit ridiculous. In the last episode, in particular, the writers were trying to drop story bombs, but I ended up just getting hammered with confusion.

Having said that, something that needs to be mentioned is the dubbing work done by Netflix to bring this French show to an English-speaking audience. I was fully expecting the usual average, scenery chewing voice acting that consistently breaks your concentration in these Netflix dubbed shows. However the dubbing acting is so well done in La Revolution, I often forgot the actors weren’t actually speaking English.

La Revolution is a dark, gritty fantasy horror period piece that is quite fun to watch. With a strong start that deteriorates over the course of the season where I struggled to remain interested, I am glad I watched it but will unlikely delve into the second season.

Watch La Revolution over on Netflix.

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Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins runs Grimdark Magazine and loves anything to do with telling darker stories. Doesn't matter the format, or when it was published or produced--just give him a grim story told in a dark world by a morally grey protagonist and this bloke's in his happy place. Add in a barrel aged stout to sip on after a cheeky body surf under the Australian sun, and that's his heaven.