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'L' Accident' Streaming on Acorn
December 18, 2017  | By David Hinckley

The French mystery L'Accident may remind some viewers of Broadchurch, because there are stretches when the villain seems to be the picturesque coastal village where the story is set.

L'Accident, a six-part drama that rolls out Monday on the streaming service Acorn, also uses the Broadchurch ploy of starting with a devastating fatal tragedy, then simultaneously working backward and forward to explain it.

Rebecca Cauvy (Emma Colberti, left) has a happy, loving relationship with her husband Gabriel (Bruno Solo, top & left) and their adolescent daughter Luna. So it makes little sense that when we meet her she is sitting in the driver’s seat of an SUV that’s stopped on the exit ramp from a superhighway, pointed in the wrong direction.

We also can’t immediately understand why she seems to be in a twilight zone, reaching for an empty liquor bottle and muttering disjointed phrases incoherently.   

It’s a situation with few potentially good outcomes, and when an exiting car smashes into her, she and two other people don’t make it out alive.

That’s a tiny bit of a spoiler. More to the point, it’s L'Accident's setup.

The local police have no explanation for what happened, so they’re relieved when the autopsy shows Rebecca was legally drunk and they can write the whole thing off as an alcohol-induced misadventure. Gabriel is not satisfied so easily since, among other things, he knows Rebecca never drank hard liquor.

He sets out to find the truth, and fortunately finds a sympathetic ear in one policewoman, Solene (Charlotte Talpaert, right, with Solo).

Their quest isn’t convenient for much of the town, since the official verdict absolves everyone else of any responsibility and that’s just the way a bunch of influential folks would prefer it remain.

Seems the charming seaside village of Saint Lune, despite its prime location, has fallen on economic hard times. This, in turn, has drawn some of the townsfolk into enterprises that are somewhat shady and more than somewhat dangerous.

L'Accident parcels out the details of these enterprises slowly. We know little more than Gabriel, though perhaps we aren’t as shocked as he to learn the depths of the moral decay.

As in Broadchurch, seemingly innocent relationships and connections become details of considerable significance once we start to understand the secrets and lies.

In Gabriel’s own contracting business, his old friend and employee Pascal (Marc Citti) may not have been completely honest. Gabriel’s and Rebecca’s close friend Iris Lafargue (Gabrielle Atger) acts evasive at odd moments, and Anne Clermont (Romane Portail), mother of Luna’s best friend, seems curiously distracted.

As L'Accident rolls out, we know most of this will be explained. What’s pleasantly surprising is how well it’s all done, both in dramatic content and in timing.

Gabriel isn’t a saint. He has a temper and he can behave like more of a jerk than the loss of his wife would entitle him to be. But the show makes us want to be passengers on the ride he and Solene are taking, even as it becomes more ominous.

L'Accident's surprises are clever and many and continue to the end. It’s a solid, engaging mystery populated with mostly decent people who sometimes end up doing indecent things.

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