mon 22/04/2024

Spin, More 4 | reviews, news & interviews

Spin, More 4

Spin, More 4

French political thriller has a lot going on

Nathalie Baye as Anne Visage, who runs for French President

Walter Presents, Channel 4's clever and welcome strand of foreign, subtitled drama for broadcast both on television and online, is already throwing up some interesting titles. It launched with the Cold War-set Deutschland 83, and now second in the series to be given a broadcast run is Spin, first seen on French television in 2012 under the title Les hommes de l'ombre (The Shadow Men).

Like many French serials (including the fantastic police procedural Spiral), Spin likes to take its time. By mistake (All 4's or mine, I don't know which) I watched the second episode first and then the opener; actually it made little difference to my understanding of what was going on – a more efficient director would have delved straight into the story with the second part's events.

One writer described 'Spin' as 'House of Cards' meets 'Borgen'

The French President has been killed by a suicide bomber; his shifty Prime Minister, Philippe Deleuvre (Philippe Magnan), is itching to take over the presidency and lying about the killer to gain political capital; Simon Kapita, the President's former head of communications who helped get him elected, returns from his sojourn in the United States; his protégé is the smooth advertising man Theodore Desmeuze; Valentine (Clémentine Poidatz) is the colleague who has been lover to both; and Anne Visage (Nathalie Baye) is the politician Kapita decides he will work for in the forthcoming presidential election. Desmeuze, meanwhile, has decided to throw his hat in with Deleuvre, a brutish right-winger whom Kapita despises.

So the scene is set for all sorts of intrigue – political and sexual – inter-generational head-butting between Desmeuze and Kapita (Grégory Fitoussi and Bruno Wolkowitch, pictured below), media concoctions and criminal conspiracies over the next 10 episodes. No wonder one writer described Spin as House of Cards meets Borgen.

With a large cast and muliple storylines there's a lot going on, and some of the subtleties of the story – such as the clues to Desmeuze's hatred of his mentor and supposed friend, Kapita – may be more difficult to spot for viewers reading the subtitles (infinitely preferable to dubbed dialogue, though).

But with its heady combination of power, politics and sex, Spin is a half-decent replacement for the much missed Borgen. Like Borgen, Spin examines how modern politics exists well beyond simply the place of legislature (and the only element of the establishment to be elected) and extends to the government administration and its advisers, the party machine, the media, police and security agencies.

At first Spin seems to be setting up some simple (and simplistic) good-versus-bad paradigms – the opportunistic Deleuvre vying for the presidency against politician-with-a-social conscience Visage; the patently nice Kapita locked in battle with the cynical Desmeuze, for whom everything can be spun, including his relationship with Valentine. “We're not a couple,” he tells her, “we're just sleeping together.”

But then we see the “goodies” are sinners too – Visage was having an affair with the married President, while Kapita's with Valentine took place while he was still married. Who knows what secrets lie in wait to be uncovered in the supposed baddies' lives, and those who serve them? The good-versus-evil angle has extra import for British viewers, now watching in the aftermath of 2015's twin attacks on Paris, as we see Deleuvre callously spin the presidenial assassination against France's Muslim population.

The first two episodes of Spin didn't entirely grab me, but it's very promising – and if you, like me, really miss Borgen, it may well shape up to fill that particular hole in your life.

It examines how modern politics exists well beyond simply the place of legislature


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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It's Ludovic Desmeuze, not Theodore I think.

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