With Parallèles, Disney+ is making a foray into the genre. Is the second French series of the platform a success? Critical.
Disney+ invests in French creation. The platform, established in France for almost two years, unveiled its first blue, white, red production just a few weeks ago. After this comedy called Week-end Familyit’s the turn of Parallels to join the catalog. A series of another genre, on the border between the fantastic and the detective.
Long-time friends, Bilal, Romane, Samuel and Victor see their lives turned upside down when a mysterious event separates them and propels them into parallel dimensions. They will do everything to understand what happened and try to go back. They will also have to navigate between their family responsibilities and their problems of the heart.
Disney is tackling a genre unfairly shunned in France: the fantastic. However, she does not jump without a net since the story also borrows from the policeman, much more popular in our green regions. Parallèles also aims to appeal to as many people as possible, thanks to a resolutely family positioning. No bloodshed, we’re still at Mickey’s. Is the formula winning?
Gender from a new angle
Making these different tones coexist is a challenge. A real science of precision that creator Quoc Dang Tran seems to master, who in the first three episodes manages to build his universe thanks to well-oiled narrative mechanics and a skillfully constructed mystery. If we can obviously draw a parallel with Stranger Things and Darkthe new Disney+ series definitely does not have the same ambition.
Parallels recycles a recipe that works, that of alternative universes, to add human intrigue linked to adolescence. The goal is as much to uncover these mysterious disappearances as to explore the relationships that unite this band of teenagers. There are therefore many inspirations, starting with The Goonies which, according to its creator, particularly nourished the story.
Because yes it is obvious, Parallels is aimed at young adults. Besides, all the codes of the genre are there, from the love triangle to family quarrels, difficult to make clearer. Still, sometimes the series fails to avoid the clichés of the genre and scriptwriting facilities. We forgive him willingly, the series not having time to deepen its themes in just six short episodes. A second season could make it possible to rectify the situation and bring this whole adventure to maturity.
If we could fear this general public positioning, it is ultimately by assuming that Parallels finds its balance, at least in all three episodes. Things get a bit messy as the conclusion approaches, as the narrative picks up speed and takes many shortcuts.
A rather uneven writing that taints the experience somewhat, especially since the series started on a rather solid foundation. The mechanics of Parallels have some malfunctions.
A certain alchemy
In front of the camera, several young shoots of French cinema respond. Unfortunately, not everyone manages to find the right tempo. They are not always helped by the dialogues, which are sorely lacking in finesse. If several actors stand out, particularly Victoria Eber and Thomas Chomel, it must be admitted that there is a certain propensity for overplay among the rest of the troupe.
Fortunately, more experienced actors come to lend a hand, starting with Guillaume Labbé, impeccable in the shoes of the policeman in charge of the case. The actor, who we saw in the series Map Heart on Netflixplays here the comic guarantee of the story with a certain disconcerting.
We also salute the performance of Omar Mebrouk and Naidra Ayadi. The actress who distinguished herself in Police here stands a distraught mother after the disappearance of her son. A performance largely up to the challenge.
A well-anchored DNA
Disney is a regular at North American super-productions, and essentially places its narratives in this context. It could therefore be feared that Parallels fail to find its geometry, wedged between two continents.
However, the series benefits from a real visual identity, in the heart of its snowy mountains. The two directors have some great ideas for staging this fantastic epic, we just regret that they did not place the cursor a little further.
All this is still too much in the nails. Some beautiful staging ideas appear here and there, but are still too few to allow Parallels to embrace all the fantastic dimension of his story. By way of comparison, all things considered, Dark was more successful in its foray into the genre, with careful photography and polished staging.
Despite some errors in his equation, Parallels is finally a good surprise. Intended for a young audience, the French production of Disney+ has all the keys in hand to establish itself in the catalog of the platform alongside Marvel and Star Wars productions. It remains to be seen if the French public will take a liking to this group of teenagers, and if the strategy of the platform will offer it the international influence to which it can claim.