Close your eyes and think for a moment. When someone says the word ‘France’ in your ear – whispers it, preferably – what pops into your head? Let’s move beyond the Eiffel Tower for a second. What do you see? Croissants? Cigarettes? Red Wine? Fancy food? Sudden nudity? Perhaps the cocky, yet charmingly rugged face of Gerard Depardieu? Well, you’re in luck, because Netflix’s new series Marseille has all of those elements – in spades.
Unfortunately, what it also has is absolutely terrible writing, more subplots than there are spinoffs of CSI, and aerial porn visuals with the restraint of a petulant child who’s been handed a camera for his birthday.
It’s supposed to be a political thriller in the vein of fellow Netflix flagship show House of Cards, but it has none of the complexity, none of the intricacy and none of the shady political maneuvering. In fact, it limits itself to “cooking the books” and “striking deals.” Even if you count yourself as one in the rapidly dwindling number of Gerard Depardieu fans, his character here is the blandest, most confusingly square ‘antihero’ this side of The Sopranos.
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Sure, he is a family man like Tony Soprano, he has the ambition (or at least used to) of Breaking Bad’s Walter White, but – like a cheap knockoff of Chanel No. 5 – he still comes across as a much tamer cousin of President Frank Underwood from House of Cards. Having him snort drugs before a football match simply isn’t going to cut it these days. But what really made me hate him, however, was the fact that he had the Netflix app installed on his phone.
In the end, Marseille has the indifferent contempt of a French tween but is told with the manic lunacy of an Indian saas. C’est horrible.