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4.5 out of 5 stars
The Returned - Series 1 [DVD]
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 31 July 2013
I cannot praise this show highly enough. A totally different take on the dead rising from the grave scenerio, it makes for a suspenseful, well paced story cloaked in atmosphere. The show is filmed on location in the French Alps, so that ensures beautiful scenery, and a heightened sense of isolation, which suits the later episodes very well. The main actors are totally convincing in their roles, and are aided by a fine supporting cast, while the various subplots maintain a good balance of mystery and revelation. One night a random group find themselves wandering in the forest, so head back to town, to their homes and families. They cannot comprehend why everything is suddenly different, and why their families should view their homecoming with such incredulity. For some, the return of their loved ones means overwhelming joy, for others, it is blasphemy, beyond reason. Some accept, others cannot. And for the bewildered returned, they seek only to continue their lives as if they never left. The show is a slow burner. The relationships between characters, living or dead, are explored with great sensitivity and tenderness. The highlights for me were Victor (the boy on the front of the dvd) and the 'fairy'. Their tentative attachment gradually deepens into a firm bond, the strength of which will eventually be tested in a powerfully emotive scene. Also Toni, the local bar owner, who has been harbouring a secret over many years. His story explores similiar themes of tradegy, but also redemption, forgiveness, loyalty and love. The soundtrack is by Scottish band Mogwai. It compliments the eerie theme of the show very well. Lastly, the show is all in French, with English subtitles, but this ensures greater authenticity considering the setting, so is a bonus in my book. Just watch it, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
This was an amazing series. Made in French with sub titles that enough to put many a viewer off yet looking at all the other reviews I guess it didn't. The pace of this thriller left me looking forward to next weeks episode and the scene shot in the underpass left me hiding behind my fingers.

I was therefore more than a little bewildered when the credits for the last episode rolled across the screen so went searching on the Internet for reasons why it ended in this way. The series maker didn't think this would be a big hit and although a second series is now being made its two years since this one was and its taken that long to come to the screen. The excuse for the unusual ending was that as they didn't have the confidence that this was going to be picked up for tv so they left open ended let's face it foreign films and especially in UK don't do that well which is sad as there are some little gems out there.

Like I said they are now making second series which is great if it centres around the same characters it may be difficult to explain why they have aged As there are child characters, although I am sure we will not really care we will just be pleased to see it back on our screens.

Great series!!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
One of my favorite lines from the TV show "Pushing Daisies" is when Ned the Pie-Maker criticizes the term "living dead": "When you're dead, that's what you are. But when you're dead and then you're not, you're alive again. Can't we say 'alive again'?"

He might as well have been talking about "The Returned" (aka "Les Revenants"), a French TV show that explores what happens when the dead return to life in a small French village -- and what it might lead to. Twilit, murky, gory and always filled with a sense of unease, this is an exquisitely haunting piece with plenty of twists and unanswered questions.

Five people mysteriously appear in a small mountain town in France, with no memory of their deaths or anything after that. Simon (Pierre Perrier) and fifteen-year-old Camille (Yara Pilartz) finds that in the years since their deaths, their families have moved on -- hers has fallen apart, including her troubled twin Lena (Jenna Thiam), and his fiancee Adele (Clotilde Hesme) is about to marry another man.

But family drama is not the biggest problem: one of the "Returned" is a serial killer with a penchant for repeatedly stabbing women to death, then eating their internal organs. And the killer's last victim, Julie (Céline Sallette) finds herself caring for a strange little boy with mysterious powers.

Power fluctuations and small floods begin to plague the town, as the "Returned" try to fit back into their old lives -- or in Camille's case, try to make a new one for herself. But more problems keep cropping up -- Lena suffers from a mysterious gangrenous gash on her back, and Adele's jealous fiance Thomas (Samir Guesmi) tries to frame Simon for the murders. But as the enigmatic Pierre (Jean-François Sivadier) gathers them together, it becomes clear that the dead are not returning by accident... and the five "Returned" are not alone.

"The Returned" is not a show to watch casually -- it's a complicated tapestry of many plot threads, woven and twisted until you can barely see where they end. Seemingly ordinary stuff turns out to be incredibly weird and twisted, and seemingly cliched characters turn out to be... well, something very unexpected.

The story unfolds slowly, moodily building to its odd climax with every episode. The story is also pretty well-balanced between the screwed-up personal lives of the Returned, and the mysterious supernatural goings-on (mostly from Victor). The supernatural is kept pretty low-key most of the time, but it's clear that something bizarre and otherworldly is in town. And it's graced with some striking if disturbing imagery -- consider the drowned animals floating over a city submerged in a clear green-blue lake.

It's never made entirely clear if the Returned are undead or truly "alive again." But unlike your stereotypical zombies, they seem to be fully cognizant. The actors almost all do amazing jobs here, from the troubled teenagers to the psychic prostitute, the jealous cop to the serial killer -- and all of them are painted in shades of grey, each with their own motives and flaws. The only exception is Swann Nambotin, who is just kind of... blank.

Honestly, the biggest problem with this series is that it ends on the ultimate cliffhanger -- we have no answers about the Returned, what caused their reappearance and what happened. Season Two is a long, long way aways!

You would expect nothing but joy if the dead returned to life, but "The Returned" shows that sometimes that is only the start of the trouble. Almost perfect, except for all the unanswered questions.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2013
As a card-carrying wussy, I wasn't expecting to 'like' this, but was intrigued by the trailer, so I watched.....and now I'm completely hooked! I have other French (subtitled) movies ('Cyrano de Bergerac' with Gerard Depardieu is THE greatest movie EVER in my opinion) so wasn't phased by the prospect of subtitles. I just think this is the most original, beautifully shot TV series - even if the words 'Season 1' strike fear into my heart because I NEED some kind of 'resolution' or my head may blow off!!! I've possibly spent more time than I maybe should trying to work out EXACTLY what's going on, and more importantly, WHY it's going on, so the idea I may be left 'hanging' until another series is kind of disturbing! An absolute MUST SEE for those who crave something that's not completely predictable or a crappy 'reality' show. Bravo to writers, (perfect) cast and crew.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2013
For a start, I am completely fed up with rubbish reality programmes and series which have been done before and, to be honest, are pretty dull. A friend mentioned she'd seen this advertised, so we though we'd watch it as it sounded intriguing. Sooooo glad we did! Hooked from the off, the series unfolds slowly but it is never dull or too slow. You get little snippets of info and new things develop to make your race! The acting is first-class, the plot is one that keeps you wondering, and you just think you've sussed something then it changes and throws you off balance again. Very few series or movies keep me guessing or have the ability to keep me hooked, but this one does all the way through the 8 episodes. I initially thought I'd get fed up of subtitles, but you get so engrossed in what's happening, 5-minutes in and you've forgotten about them. There's only 2 other series which I enjoy as much, and that's The Walking Dead and Homeland. It's a spooky but not overly scary series and the best thing on the TV in a LONG time!!
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
THE RETURNED has been showing on Channel 4 for the last four weeks or so. Right from the very first episode, I have been hooked.

It is a French drama, in French with English subtitles. This takes nothing away from the action itself. The main idea behind the series is that within a small French town, a number of people who have been killed in various different ways have come back; they are the returned. When they return, they do not appear to realise that they were previously dead, not remembering anything about how they died, all they seem to know is who they are involved with, returning to lost families and loved ones. And, although some of them have been dead for years, they do not look as though they should be dead, they are not zombies.

Each episode so far focuses on one particular person who has returned; looking at how they died and how they are related to the person or people that they have come back to. But, there is also a story which is pulling them all together and each episode gives you just enough new information to answer some questions, whilst also throwing up others. And, of course, with each person who returns there are many different problems or implications to face. Love affairs of the past are no longer dead and buried, rivalries can be reignited, and if someone was murdered, would their murderer come looking for them again? Even the returned who have been longed for present problems for those around them; just how do you explain away your dead daughter coming back to life?!

This is an excellent drama series. With each new episode the story is added to, introducing new lines of thought and possibilities. The acting is good and each character is interesting, dead or alive. Even the soundtrack adds to the atmosphere.
Highly recommended.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
I have watched the first three episoded one after the other this evening and I am hooked. Brilliantly filmed in a way that really keeps the suspense high, and doesn't give away too many answers. Nothing very gruesome, slightly scary,and highly gripping. Very believeable. I love hearing French too, so for me the language is a bonus. The subtitles are well translated. It is always a thrill when you get hooked on a good series! I went onto amazon to see if I could buy the dvd as I don't want to wait for the episodes to air on Channel 4 - I want to see the rest straight away. For those that do not know the story line, a number of people who were dead, all come back to life on the same night, as if nothing ever happened. They have not aged, and they are not aware that they were dead, and it takes them a while to get clued up that everyone else they know have aged. None of them are aware that others too have come back to life, nor are their families, who struggle with how to deal with the situation, with varying reactions to thinking god has answered their prayers, to thinking it's a ghost, to thinking it's something bad. The reactions of their families is brilliantly portrayed and totally believable. Scary suspense is added by a couple of the characters. There are many hints of darker things to come. Brilliantly interspersed clips from the past, keeps the balance perfectly between suspense and storytelling. Make no mistake - this is a thriller, not horror or drama. Might sleep with the light on tonight as I am slightly creeped out...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
At least five have separately come back to the small Alpine town right next to a dam. They are exactly as they used to be, unaware they are now dead. Why the return? Have they unfinished business? In the week that follows "things" begin to happen. Suicide, violent attacks, killings. Meanwhile local power supplies falter and the dam's water level sinks....

Key to everything seems young "Victor", murdered thirty five years ago. (Superbly cast Swann Namotin manages to look both vulnerable and scary.) "Seems" is the operative word, for we do not really know. So much here is a mystery, the series packed with questions hopefully to be answered in Season 2.

The other "returned"? Simon, who died ten years ago on his wedding day; Mrs Costa, wife of the respected former schoolmaster; seriously unstable Serge, who may have a score to settle with his brother; fifteen-year-old Camille, whose school coach plummeted over a parapet.

Are they freaks to be driven away, or relatives and friends to be welcomed back into the community? Tensions rise, emotions overflow. What if these five are but the advance guard, scores of others on their way?

Here is proof a television series does not necessarily need big budgets and major special effects to succeed. Great impact can be made with an intriguing central storyline, good scripts, great cast, fine atmosphere and style. Critics praised, millions of viewers became hooked. (Do not be put off by the thought of subtitles. Most find them no problem at all.)

Skilfully and enjoyably we are well and truly teased.

Welcome here an appropriately haunting masterpiece.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The French series Les Revenants/The Returned aired on Sundance last evening. The music by the Scottish band, Mogwai, is essential to the mood and feel of this series. This is a mystery, but not a who done it, it is more a question and a lot of missing parts.

The series is set in the aftermath of tragic bus accident which took the lives of an entire class of students on a school trip. The Alpine town featured in this series has beautiful scenery. We meet a young girl,climbing over an embankment onto the road and walking back to her home. She was one if the girls who perished in that tragic accident. She arrives home, goes to the refrigerator and starts eating. Her shocked mother comes into the kitchen and can't speak. Camille, the young girl apologizes for being late and says she is so hungry. She goes onto say that she doesn't know what happened, but she awoke from a nap on the side if the road. The family s confused, and in other parts of the town strange happenings are occurring. More people are showing up, the water level in the dam is dropping, the lights are going on and off. People are coming and going.

What is happening? Is Camille real? Where are the rest of the children? What happens now?

The first episode is alarming and wondrous. No zombies, just real,people arriving home from who knows where. What is to come? Seven more episodes to go. An inviting , scary, wonderfully acted series. A French series with subtitles.

Recommended. prisrob11-01-13
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2013
After years of being subjected to dumbed down US `good guy bad guy' drama, comes this brilliant thought provoking masterpiece from France.
Each episode lingers for several hours after you turn off the TV as you try to unravel what you have witnessed.

This is drama for those who want to be challenged, who want something to make them stop and think and keep them intrigued.
If you are the type of person who needs a happy and logical conclusion then you will be disappointed.

The setting is superb and the acting strong. Like a good book this is hard to put down. You will want to watch all 8 episodes at once. But don't, just enjoy, absorb and let your brain develop the plot.
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