From the makers of Broadchurch comes The Tunnel a smart, stylish and thoroughly European take on the murder mystery. When a body is discovered in the service tunnels of the Channel Tunnel a Anglo-French investigation begins into to the person later dubbed the “Truth Terrorist” or the “Terroriste Vérité” depending on which side of the channel we are on. This cleverly constructed crime thriller effortlessly spans the 21-mile stretch of water with subtitled passages running smoothly alongside the English-speaking scenes.
Elise (Clémence Poésy) and Karl (Stephen Dillane), the French and English officers on the case, are thrown together in difficult circumstances and have an uneasy relationship, but predictably his wise cracking English personality somewhat melts her icy, almost sociopathic, front to build an unlikely friendship. So far so predictable, but this slow moving drama builds cleverly with each episode always leaving you wanting just a little more information. The controlled pace allows mysteries to build and unfurl over several episodes rather than granting the quick gratification and neat endings we often expect from a police drama.
With star turns from the likes of Keeley Hawes and Joseph Mawle it is needless to say that the level of acting talent is very high, however sometimes the dialogue can be a little clunky. This is a shame as is distracts from the fairly sophisticated plot, but the intriguing nature of the “Truth Terrorist” and the slow coming together of disparate plotlines is enough to keep you watching over the 10, 45-minute episodes.
As well as the storyline developing over the 450 minutes of television, we also see significant character development. Not only in the obvious coming together of the leads but also in the development of their characters. Karl is not the funny, family man he is initially presented as and Elise’s childhood trauma is explored over the course of the series giving the audience a chance to soften to her straight talking ways.
The Tunnel is in it’s essence a cop/buddy drama with a twist, the Anglo-French aspect lends, what could have been a fairly plodding story at times, some European sophistication. The use of the subtitles gives an unconscious nod towards the Scandinavian drama that is TV’s thing of the moment; shows like The Killing and The Bridge have removed a lot of the pretension from subtitled releases allowing English audiences to enjoy this kind of pan-European drama in their own living rooms.
What begins as a good way to pass an hour or two draws you in until you are completely involved in the characters lives, personalities, traumas and actions; at that point there is no way to stop watching. The plot is slow to unravel, and watching an episode a week the overly controlled plot could become infuriating but to watch it on DVD is great, you can cram as much as you want into a night that way! Mystery, thriller and drama The Tunnel works on every level; there is an uncompromising nature to the plot that leaves an audience with a feeling that anything could happen.
The DVD of The Tunnel is released on 13th January.
Charlotte Keeys, @jackanoryreview, www.jackanoryreviews.wordpress.com