Sun 25 Dec 2016
14 years years ago I started to be fascinated by an American TV series produced by the HBO which was called The Wire. The action took place in Baltimore and was centered around a team of cops using informers in order to penetrate the milieu of the drug dealers. Besides being very well written and enjoying the participation of a cast with many remarkable actors who build heroes I could identify with, it painted a very realistic image of the Baltimore suburbs, of the crime culture, of the weak layers of the society, an image full of violence but also of humanity and compassion from a very unexpected point of view. It remains until today one of the best TV series that I have ever seen, maybe the best in the category of crime series.
The French series Cannabis which premiered with six episodes on the European (Franco-German) TV channel ARTE reminded me in many moments the quality of the American series (that lasted five seasons). It is lacking almost completely the cops dimension and rather focuses on the worlds of the dealers with the big shots living luxury lives in haciendas in Morocco or Spain, enjoying classical music and top medical services, and of the poor people in the suburbs of cities like Marseille who are obliged to take crime as a way of life in order to make ends. Yet, viewers come to know soon a collection of characters that are are very well built, with credible motivations, with passions and weaknesses behind their tough appearances or violent behaviors. The story line is credible, the social environment is more that just background, it plays a role in describing a world where crime becomes part of the daily lives.
One of the big advantages of TV series in general is that they can put fresh faces to the ‘small’ screens especially if they do not employ ‘big’ screen actors who are looking for extra employment in some kind of semi-retirement or tentative for a comeback. This is the case of the film created by Hamid Hlioua and directed by Lucie Borleteau . Acting is very precise and many characters exceed the stereotype dimension so characteristic to many of the lesser quality TV series. I can suspect however that after these series names and faces like the one of Kate Moran will be better known. Story telling and pace are admirable. The ending leaves enough characters alive and enough story threads unfinished in order to justify a second season. I hope that the producers of Cannabis will not resist the temptation of making it.