Tuesday, 5 January 2016


Mathieu Kowalski, a professional poker player, receives a phone call from his twin brother Thomas Kowalski. Thomas, a Parisian cop, asks Mathieu to "replace" him for two or three days. Except this time it's more complicated than when they were teenagers as it seems the police captain got himself into big trouble.

Mathieu must use his player instinct to be convincing on a crime scene alongside his brother's partner Sybille Paoli. But also in the private life of his twin, with Thomas's ex-wife Mathilde and their son Lucas.

French private channel TF1 works to refresh its line-up of crime dramas. After Le Mystère du Lac and Une chance de trop (adapted from Harlan Coben's No Second Chance) last autumn, and the 2-part pilot of Contact in December, here comes Instinct. The 2 x 52-minute pilot (L'échange and Le secret de Julia) will be shown this Thursday on TF1. It stars Olivier Sitruk as Mathieu Kowalski and Capitaine Thomas "Kowa" Kowalski, Charlie Nune (Lieutenant Sybille Paoli), Léa Bosco (Mathilde), Guillaume Denaiffe (Lieutenant Guillaume Dantec), Alex Fondja (Lieutenant Jean-François Victor), Corto Paroux (Lucas Kowalski) and Arianne Agiagge (Pathologist). Micky Sébastian plays Commissaire Delphine Leroy.

Interestingly, Olivier Sitruk played twins in the excellent crime/comedy drama Jeff et Léo, flics et jumeaux (2004-2006) on M6. This time Sitruk only interacts with himself through the phone conversation between the Kowalskis at the start. Then, Thomas disappears and Mathieu exchanges his tux for his brother's suit to investigate with Paoli on the homicide of a psychiatrist. He quickly makes his marks because he's smart and instinctive, though Sybille begins to have doubts. She thinks his change of attitude has something to do with Gallien, his former partner, gone AWOL after a robbery. Commissaire Leroy tells "Thomas" that he's under scrutiny from Internal Affairs. Mathieu tries to contact his brother but the real Thomas is unreachable.

Written by Richard Berkowitz, Franck Ollivier and Nicolas Douay, the double pilot episode of Instinct works rather well in spite of a couple of clichés and a second part (the case of a murdered young woman) weaker than the first. The cast is excellent, starting with Olivier Sitruk. These days it looks like all the actresses in the channel's dramas have the soap Plus Belle La Vie (1) in their resume (here Charlie Nune and guest star Dounia Coesens). Some French viewers may recognize Guillaume Denaiffe from a few adverts. It's always nice to see Micky Sébastian, who was ousted three months ago from France 3's cold case drama Origines before the filming of its second season.

This pilot, directed by Marwen Abdallah, is enjoyable enough to wish more. The character of Mathieu is sympathetic, thanks mainly to Olivier Sitruk, and the Thomas Kowalski storyline shows many possibilities. Instinct is produced by Jean-Luc Azoulay's JLA Productions (Commissaire Magellan) with TF1, Be-FILMS, RTBF (Télévision Belge) and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. Produced by Richard Berkowitz and Nicolas Douay. Bernard Paccalet exec produces. Music composed by Fabien Nataf.

(1) The French equivalent of EastEnders, aired by pubcaster France 3.


See also:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3hbzg9_l-instant-m-avril-2016-6-millions-de-foyers-prives-de-tele-et-vous_news (The evolution of TF1's crime dramas - At 5'11", In French).

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