Friday, July 14, 2017

Cleaning the Slate: TV (Hotel Beau Séjour)

Making a decision. As I watch too much TV, I have too much to comment on, some great, some good, and mostly only meh. As I always have a massive backlog of movies and TV, and even some video games, I am going to pare that down. Only four five remaindered TV shows will get posts, and after that, only things that leave a great impression will end up here. Well, maybe if I actually clean house on the Movies, I will do the occasional What I Am Watching post.

2017, Bert Van Dael, Sanne Nuyens, Eénf/Netflix -- Netflix

I have said it before, but as if I didn't have enough pending quality TV to watch (still haven't watched Mad Men, Orange is the New Black or True Detective) I regularly go seeking it from other countries. Its because I want something different and by different, I don't just mean genre, though that helps. I want exposure to a different perspective, a different take on a familiar topic, because no matter where you go, the concepts of TV seem to be similar, just more localized. Hotel Beau Séjour is a British-style murder mystery show, from Belgium, with a ghostly sub-plot.

Kato Hoeven awakens in a hotel room to find her own murdered body in the tub. Meanwhile she is dressed and has the head wound that killed her, sticky with blood. She doesn't remember why she is there, or who murdered her, but quickly finds out that few can see her -- she's dead after all. But she still has to eat, sleep and walk; and certain people can see & touch her.

The reasons how she is back (still here?) are completely overshadowed by finding out why she was killed, which becomes her obsession. Its a classic British-style murder mystery as Kato and the people who can interact with her look into her murder. British-style murder mysteries, exempting the procedural ones, do a wonderful job of focusing on how only a single murder can affect a small town, and the people in it. Of course, the quiet, small town lifestyles are always supplanted by the extremes at which even the most common people can go.

Kato, a tomboyish Rachael Leigh Cook Brain on Drugs moves between the people who can see her -- her drunken father, her half sister, an asshole cop, a damaged young man, her wallflower best friend -- and the others affected by her death -- her mother, the federal police investigating, her step father, the owner of the hotel where she was killed, etc. Every person has a small detail, a small connection to what is going, a part to play in the investigation. Kato herself is not as concerned about why & how she is back, as she is finding her killer and to fill in the gaps in her memory, on the day & night that ended in her death.

Typically, everything moves slowly, painfully sometimes, but with deliberation. Not everything needs to be revealed to stay compelling. The show is artful in its delivery of pain, the pain of loss, grief and tragedy. Even the people who can see her, interact with her, understand she is still lost to them. The balance with which the shows handles this, make this far more drama than genre but that little element of her return allows us to float like ghosts above the show, observing but not participating.