Anthracite – Bizarre French Polar with a Touch of Horror and Mystery

SERIES REVIEW – There are two important things to know about Anthracite. The first is that it’s weird – it gets downright bizarre to the point where it feels like it has to be. The second is that, for a thriller, it’s often horror-ish, leading you into dark corners that a) you wouldn’t expect and b) you’d rather avoid. These aren’t necessarily negatives, just be prepared for them when you dive into a Netflix French series.


If you approach Anthracitee with the right expectations, you’ll be treated to a stunningly engrossing French Netflix thriller that is unpredictable on almost every level in a way that is rarely experienced. The stylistic elegance and directorial bravura seen at the start of the series soon gives way to dark, twisty plots that challenge the talented cast. By the end of the series, we probably won’t be entirely sure what we’ve seen, but we’ll certainly have seen something memorable.

To avoid spoilers, I’ll just outline the basic story. Essentially, it all centres on the cult of Levionna, a village in the French Alps, with its charismatic leader Caleb Johansson (Stefano Cassetti) as the sole survivor of a mass suicide.



On the trail of a missing journalist


Three decades later, Solal Heilman (Jean-Marc Barr), a journalist who once investigated the site, returns to Levionna but disappears under mysterious circumstances. His internet-savvy daughter Ida (Noémie Schmidt) tracks down her father and meets Jaro (played by Hatik, a slightly bardic rapper popular in France), an employee of the ski resort who, for some mysterious reason, seemed to be important to Solal.

Soon afterwards, Jaro becomes involved in a murder that is horribly reminiscent of an earlier incident committed by Caleb. The local policewoman Giovanna (Camille Lou), who is trying to recover from a mental breakdown, is confronted with the problems that arise.

Here, however, let’s stop the story from being told. I don’t want to exaggerate or even indirectly give away spoilers. What I can say, however, is that the story we have described so far is only the tip of the iceberg. The real excitement is to see where each unexpected twist and turn in the series leads.



Changes of mood and style


It’s important to note that the slightly clownish atmosphere of the early episodes of the series soon disappears. The story quickly becomes too serious to allow Ida’s social awkwardness and her team of detectives, who are always online, to dominate the plot. Instead, bolder, more daring plot twists take the lead, leaving all formal glamour behind.

I wouldn’t say that about many series, but Anthracite will simply be too much for many. Not too much in the sense that it is difficult to watch or too horrifying, but objectively too much with so many twists, turns, revelations and unexpected twists that the average viewer will find hard to follow. At times, it can seem as if the most daring scenes are self-serving, and as if shocking content and unexpected twists are given prominence at the expense of the deeper plot.

The series itself seems unsure of exactly what it wants to be about. The story involves cult activism, web sleuths and angry small-town dwellers exploited by big business, but all of this is presented more as a chain of events.

A mix of genres is also a feature of the series. It mixes coming-of-age elements, teen romances, police dramas and supernatural thrillers, sometimes all within a single scene.



Not your average Netflix thriller


You have to admit that these points are really just small details. The mystery that permeates the entire story provides an intriguing backdrop, and the actors deliver dynamic and memorable performances. The stunning scenery of the Alps speaks for itself, and if shocking content is an advantage, Anthracite certainly does not disappoint – it certainly abounds in that respect.

I look forward with great interest to seeing how Anthracite is received in the coming weeks, as all the signs are that the series will be divisive. It will be interesting to see how viewers react to the greater risks taken in the story. I recommend this series with some reservations, so it is worth being cautious about expectations.

-Gergely Herpai (BadSector)-





Direction - 8.1
Actors - 7.6
Story - 7.2
Visuals/Music/Sounds - 8.2
Ambience - 8.2



'Anthracite' promises to be exciting, but sometimes the plot gets carried away and the series becomes self-serving with too many twists and turns. It can be challenging for viewers to keep track of all the details as the story shifts quickly between locations and themes. Nevertheless, anyone who likes dark stories and complex characters will appreciate Anthracite's attempt to push genre boundaries.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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