If you're a fan of Nordic Noir shows like The Killing, Dark or Bitter Daisies, then Black Spot is definitely for you. Known as Zone Blanche, there are two seasons of the French Belgian crime series and they are well worth a watch.
Black Spot is set in a town called Villefranche where Laurène Weiss (Suliane Brahim) is the Captain of the local police. Working alongside her is Nounours (Hubert Delattre) but otherwise, it's a very small police department. The town is almost completely surrounded by a dense forest in the mountains and as such the normal wi-fi, sat-nav etc…do not work, hence the name ‘Black Spot'. This also makes policing the town incredibly difficult, especially as the body count starts to rise.
Enter new Prosecutor Franck Siriani (Laurent Capelluto) who has been sent to Villefranche to find out why the murder rate is so high. His direct, if somewhat bumbling style, is in complete contrast to the laissez-faire attitude of the police. They seem to simply shrug at the unusually sinister goings-on in the town.
It turns out that Villefranche is a town very much under the control of the Steiner family. They own everything from the quarry to the only bar in town and they rule with an iron fist. But things take a turn with the disappearance of the mayor's daughter, Marion. Bertrand Steiner is the mayor but he is also a lifelong friend of Laurène and the two have a lot of history going back to when Weiss herself went missing 20 years earlier.
What makes Black Spot different is that it's not a straight crime drama. Yes, there is a different crime in each episode, but all culminate into one story about the perceived mystical power that the forest holds over the town. Or at least that's what some of the town residents believe. But could it be a far more simple solution that there is a long term serial killer loose in the mountains?
In typical European fashion, and similar to Only The Animals, the characters are all very grounded and normal. There is a distinct lack of gloss and glamour and the script is thankfully devoid of eye-rolling quirky quips. It is brilliantly cast and compelling to watch. So if you love your crime drama, Black Spot from Netflix is a must-watch TV series, along with the German offering: Dark.
There is a lot going on in season 1. Laurène's own teenage daughter Cora Weiss (Camille Aguilar) is also looking for her friend, crime in the town is at an all-time high, past romantic relationships are always bubbling on the surface, nobody wants to help the police and most are afraid of Gaspard Bellan (Dan Herzberg) who's primary job is being a henchman for Bertrand Steiner (Samuel Jouy) keeping everybody in line.
Black Spot Netflix – Stream It or Skip It?
If you're looking for something different from your typical American Crime Drama, then this one is definitely worth a watch. Netflix has two full seasons of the show, each consisting of eight episodes that run around 50 minutes long. I got a lot of Twin Peaks vibes from this series, it has a foreboding air about it, as well as an intriguing quality. On top of that, it's well-made.
We hope you enjoyed our Black Spot review, be sure to check out more crime drama reviews here.
Black Spot Season 3 – Release Date?
In France, Season 2 didn't receive the same level of attention as Season 1. However, because of positive reactions from foreign audiences, there's a chance Netflix will produce Black Spot Season 3. Many foreign TV shows have become popular worldwide after Netflix acquired them, owing to their large international audience.
Rumours about the expected arrival of season 3 have been circulating in the industry for some time. There had been no official announcement from the producers or Netflix. The industry buzz has a release date in late 2022 if the series gets renewed.
Where is Black Spot Filmed?
The French series was filmed in Belgium and around the Vosges mountain range that straddles eastern France and Germany.
Except for the fact that it is the name of a mountain range, Vosges is also the name of a French “Department.” A Department in France is a geographical/political division that encompasses mainland France and comprises 96 departments. Vosges refers to an eastern region of France with 2,268 square miles and 360,000 inhabitants.
Cast & Characters
Suliane Brahim is a French actress with a background in theatre. She plays Laurène Weiss, the head of the local Gendarmerie.
Hubert Delattre plays ‘Nounours' and works with Laurène Weiss. Nounours means Teddy Bear in English, he IS truly a big bear of a guy, and he's gay, which adds another layer to the series' narrative.
Laurent Capelluto plays Inspector Franck Siriani, a quirky individual with many phobias and unresolved issues. Laurent Capelluto is a Belgian actor. Since 1999, he has appeared in more than thirty films, including the 2018 war drama DAS BOOT.
Hermann (Renaud Rutten) is a detective who excels at extracting information from big swaths of data. Camille (Tiphaine Daviot) is the front desk clerk, Camille Aguilar plays Cora Weiss and the doctor, Leïla Barami (Naidra Ayadi) makes up the rest of the main cast.
Where Did The Idea Come From?
Mathieu Missoffe, creator of the series said he based the show on initial talks with producer Vincent Mouluquet, he wanted to create a complex mystery set in an isolated location that would be both familiar and strange. Missoffe wanted a show that was both visually stunning and unique in order to stand out, the creators abandoned traditional urban crime shows in favour of a small, community surrounded by hostile and uncontrolled nature.
That's how a fictitious town called Villefranche came into existence, which has its own set of norms and ambience, with a mixture of styles ranging from Twin Peaks to Nordic noir.
Why is ‘Zone Blanche' translated as Black Spot?
The original French title of the show is “Zone Blanche”. The word means one of those spots where your phone has no service.
‘Blank Zone' is a passive translation from the French term ‘Zone Blanche'. However, that isn't a catchy name for a TV series, whereas ‘Black Spot' has the same meaning but adds an air of menace.
Awards & Critical Acclaim
The show has been nominated for numerous awards, mainly in France. However, it scooped a couple of big international awards too.
In 2017, it won multiple awards at France's prestigious Luchon International Film Festival. Best Male Newcomer went to Hubert Delattre, Best director was won by Thierry Poiraud.
The French writers and composers guild (SACD) awarded Suliane Brahim ‘The Prix Suzanne Bianchetti' which is an award in French cinema given annually since 1937 to the most promising young film actress. The award comes in the form of a medallion engraved with Suzanne Bianchetti's image.
The International Festival of Audiovisual Programs (FIPA) in Biarritz has given the FIPA d'Or award since 1987. Black Spot won the prize for Best Music in 2017, Thomas Couzinier (composer) and Frédéric Kooshmanian (composer) were responsible for the music on the series.