Saturday, 24 April 2021

HPI - SEASON 1, EPISODES 1 & 2: VENTS D'OUEST & COUTUME MALGACHE (TF1)

In a world overcrowded with crime and mystery dramas where eccentric and loose cannon sleuths are dime a dozen, only one woman can make the difference... Audrey Fleurot.
 
The bottom line: Come for Audrey Fleurot, stay for the show.
 
Audrey Fleurot (Spiral, A French Village) stars in HPI, a 8 x 52-minute French comedy/crime drama created for TF1 by Alice Chegaray-Breugnot and Nicolas Jean two of the creators of La Mante with Stéphane Carrié (1). Vincent Jamain (Balthazar, Profilage) helmed the first four episodes and Laurent Tuel did the rest. The actress plays Morgane Alvaro, 38, single mother of three children (from two different fathers) and cleaning lady at the commissariat de Lille with a disdain for authority and a 160 I.Q. that makes her HPI (Haut Potentiel Intellectuel, hence the title). When Morgane accidentally reads the file of a murder case, she deduces that its prime suspect is a victim too.
 
Both embarassed and intrigued, Commissaire Céline Hazan orders Commandant Adam Karadec to bring Morgane Alvaro on the investigation. The no-nonsense Karadec is less than pleased to work with this uncontrollable civilian who hates cops! At first, HPI looks like a parody: it takes Morgane less than 30 seconds to practice her "HPIsm" during a 3-minute pre-credit sequence meant to sell the series if you missed the trailer. But Audrey Fleurot is fabulous (of course) right from the start of Vents d'ouest, the pleasant premiere episode — written by Alice Chegaray-Breugnot, Stéphane Carrié and Nicolas Jean, whose plot could fit in any crime drama of the moment.
 
The husband of a lawyer has been killed and the police believes his wife did it because she has disappeared. Poor Commandant Karadec does his best to follow the red tornado. Finally she accepts to be a police consultant only if Commissaire Hazan finds what happened to Romain, the father of her daughter missing for 15 years. The actors alongside Audrey Fleurot are excellent: Mehdi Nebbou, who worked for Steven Spielberg or Ridley Scott and appeared on German TV in Tatort and GSG 9 – Ihr Einsatz ist ihr Leben or in the U.S. drama Homeland, plays Karadec. Céline Hazan is played by Marie Denarnaud (La malédiction du volcan).
 
The other regulars are Bruno Sanches (Gilles Vandraud), Bérangère McNeese (Daphné Forestier), Cypriane Gardin (Théa), Noé Vandevoorde (Eliott), Cédric Chevalme (Ludovic Mullier) and  the great Rufus as Henri. The guest stars of Episode 1 are Christopher Bayemi (Dr. Bonnemain), Akache Busiah (Ranir), Émilie Lafarge (Rosalie Tellier),  Camille Aguilar (Mathilde Levasseur), Philippe Capelle (Maître Sédillot), Benjamin Egner (Philippe Leroux), Caroline Filipek (Jeanne Levasseur), etc. Things get really interesting in Coutume malgache, penned by Stéphane Carrié, Alice Chegaray-Breugnot and Nicolas Jean.
 
In the impeccable second episode, a man is murdered and found dead in the bathtub of an expensive suite of a luxury hotel. The victim stole the identity of a Belgian citizen and his life was a lie with sad consequences. Karadec and Alvaro try to adjust to each other. The commandant runs in the kitchen and discovers something about Romain. The guest stars of Episode 2 are Nicolas Baisin (Romain), Salima Glamine (Alexandra Berger), Victor Pontecorvo (Greg), Vassili Schneider (Erwan Ribois), Catherine Demaiffe (Blood of the Vine) as Gladys Puger, Isabelle Defosse (Ève Ribois), etc. Produced by Septembre Productions and Itinéraire Productions with TF1, Be-Films, RTBF (Télévision belge) and Pictanovo. 
 
Filmed with the support of Région Hauts-de-France. Made in association with Umedia and the support of the Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Fédéral de Belgique. Jean Nainchrik, Anthony Lancret and Pierre Laugier are the line producers. Patrice Onfray exec produces.  Produced by Anthony Lancret, Pierre Laugier and Bérengère Legrand. Music by Yannis Dumoutiers. Cinematography by Benjamin Louet. Editing by Jean de Garrigues. High Intellectual Potential (the international title of HPI) is distributed by Newen Connect. These enjoyable first episodes of HPI, which will be shown by TF1 on April 29th, promise a good series.

The 8 episodes of HPI are already available on Salto, the French streaming service.

(1) Based on an idea from Nicolas Jean. Djibril Glissant and Franck Martins contributed to the series.

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