Should we watch the series adapted from best seller The Truth about Harry Quebert Affair on TF1?

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While Call My Agent! season 3 first episodes were broadcasted Wednesday November 14th, and The Bureau has been released on October 22th, it is now the moment for TF1 to launch its original creation in order to stay a major actor of French television.

 

the truth about Harry Québert Vérité affaire harry québert Auteur Réalisateur Acteur

 

 

And we must say that on paper, the project looks ambitious: A worldwide bestseller novel that everybody wanted to adapt, either for cinema or tv, an oscarized director and a TV star. So we did our homework, and we tell you why you should watch or not watch this mini-series.

The temptation to adapt a worldwide bestseller

 

La tentation d’adapter un best-seller mondial Pour ceux—rares—qui ne l’aurait pas lu La vérité sur l’affaire Harry Québert raconte comment un jeune auteur à succès en panne d’inspiration va rejoindre son mentor exilé dans une petite ville du Maine. A peine est-il arrivé que son ancien professeur est accusé du meurtre d’une jeune fille de 15 ans disparue en 1975. La technique—quasiment unique de Joël Dicker—d’écrire par couches, c’est à dire sans plan, sans structure narrative déterminée privilégie l’attention du lecteur, peut-être au détriment du sens. Car si on passe un moment passionnant—la lecture vous isole socialement—nous sommes majoritairement déçus à la fin. C’est que l’auteur lui-même a déclaré ne pas connaître la suite du récit ou la fin, il tente au fur et à mesure de l’écriture de se surprendre et par extension de surprendre le lecteur. A l’écran, le sentiment est autre, la densité de l’histoire écrite est beaucoup moins forte à l’écran. Peut-être est-ce dû à la prépondérance donnée à l’intrigue sur laquelle repose le roman et qui est un peu diluée visuellement. Peut-être est-ce dû au manque de caractérisation des personnages, peu visible dans le roman grâce à l’attente du lecteur à connaître la suite, mais qui à l’écran s’inscrit en creux. Reste que l’on a moins le sentiment à chaque minute, et à la fin de chaque épisode—chapitre de vouloir connaître la suite Joel Dicker affaire Harry Quebert

 

 

 

For those—rare—that did not read the book, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affairtells the story of a young star writer facing the blank page syndrome that decides to join its former teacher in a small forgotten Maine town. Barely arrived, its mentor is arrested for the murder of a 15 years girl missing since 1975.

 

 

the truth about Harry Québert Joel dicker Vérité affaire harry québert Auteur

 

 

The process—almost only sued by Joël Dicker—of writing by layers, meaning without any plan or narrative structure favors the attention of readers, perhaps at the expense of sense. Because if we are charmed while reading—and socially isolated—we are largely disappointed with the end of the story. The author himself declared not knowing the end while writing, trying to surprise himself writing and by extension trying to surprise the reader.

On the screen the feeling is different. The density of the written story is much less strong on pictures. Maybe because the story relies mainly on its structure, a bit diluted on the mini-series. Maybe because of the poor characterization of protagonists, not that visible in the novel when you are dying to know what happens next, but on the screen it looks flat. We definitely do not have the feeling, at each minute or at the end of each chapter—episode to want to know what is next.

Directed by an oscarized director

 

the truth about Harry Québert Jean-Jacques_Annaud Vérité affaire harry québert

 

 

 

 

 

So we were saying, a bestseller novel, a TV star, and a great director. And thus major expectations.

the truth about Harry Québert Vérité affaire harry québert Patrick Dempsey

Nobody can deny the quality of pictures or camera movements, neither the beauty of visual narration of certain sequences. But the visual aspect as much as rhythm do not match expectations. We feel we are watching an American series of 500 episodes, not an original creation from an European novel. The very flat cinematography does not offer shades, which combined with the weak characterization of protagonists can give the impression of watching a TV movie. And then, there is Patrick Dempsey, star of the small screen comforting for the desperate housewives but does not match the novel’s character, older and more cerebral, less beautiful and less smooth.

 

We hope for more risks with all those pretty ingredients from production. In fine, the general feeling is the one of a wasted potential by the wish to produce a series that everybody would like.

TF1 (almost) learned the lesson

 

However, despite the its defects, its lack of authenticity, TF1 succeeded its bet and defeated widely France 2 in their first Wednesday duel. The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affairattracted much more spectators than Call my agent!, even though everybody is talking about it and has been in spectators’head for 3 years.

This, while broadcasting is done in an absurd way, the impossibility of watching the original version of the mini-series. In French version, the series geek will have serious difficulties to watch this fiction, so much it sounds fake.

Casting

 

Patrick Dempsey as Harry Quebert

Ben Schnetzer as Marcus Goldman

Damon Wayans Jr. as Sgt. Perry Gahalowood

Kristine Froseth as Nola Kellergan

Kurt Fuller as Chief Gareth Pratt

Victoria Clark as Jenny Quinn

Tessa Mossey as young Jenny Quinn

Wayne Knight as Benjamin Roth

Don Harvey as Bobbo Quinn

Matt Frewer as Reverend Kellergan

Colm Feore as Elijah Stern

Josh Close as Luther Caleb

Craig Eldridge as Travis Dawn

Connor Price as young Travis Dawn

Virginia Madsen as Tamara Quinn

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