LONDON: Ever wondered if the French Revolution — a decade that rocked the country in the late 18th century and saw the abolition of the aristocratic Ancien regime in favor of a constitutional monarchy — had a more supernatural bent to it? If the uprising of the proletariat that led to many of the fundamental founding principles of democracy had less to do with a quest for liberty and equality and more to do with the fear of being quite literally eaten?
Well, even if such thoughts had never crossed your mind before, you’re in luck. Netflix’s new French-language supernatural series reimagines the pivotal historical uprising and takes some, shall we say, liberties with the finer details. “La Révolution” certainly looks the part, full of sumptuous costumes and lavish palaces that are painted in stark contrast to the gritty city and impoverished slums.
When prison doctor Joseph Guillotin investigates a series of grizzly murders, he uncovers evidence of a strange affliction that turns the blood of its victims blue. As the young physician delves deeper, he becomes embroiled with a band of plucky rebels set on fighting back against the elite upper classes — not just because of the power imbalance of French society and the horrific conditions forced on the peasantry, but because, as it turns out, the blue blood is sweeping through the aristocracy and causes a penchant for cannibalism.
Your enjoyment of “La Révolution” will rely on a willingness to overlook historical inaccuracy and a relatively strong stomach — the show is certainly not beholden to anything as trivial as facts, and there’s some pretty gruesome violence. If you’re willing to suspend your disbelief, however, there’s an enjoyable show here. It’s a little schlocky and heavy-handed at times, but the cast (headed by an earnest Amir El-Kacem as Joseph and Marilou Aussilloux as the spirited Elise de Montargis) confront the fanciful premise head on. And the show is all the better for it. This is not high drama, and the show butts up against its own far-fetched concept on a semi-regular basis. But it is entertaining, and there’s a lot to be said for that.