The Break TV series from Belgium, now on Netflix, is full of dreams and surprises. A murder mystery and police procedural set in a Belgian village, The Break (La Trêve) starts as standard, but interesting, fare. Then it increases intensity, taking us under the surface, where the locals lead criminal, dark, or dangerous lives. Some have trouble with the line between fantasy and reality.
Yoann Peeters (Yoann Blanc) is a cop from Brussels, newly arrived in Heiderfeld, where he lived as a teenager. He is immediately pulled into the investigation of an apparent suicide. Peeters, more sophisticated and experienced than the locals, suspects murder. Turns out he’s right, but he doesn’t get much help from the other police. They take cues from their chief, who wants an easy answer.
Peeters also has a teenage daughter (Sophie Breyer). He is now a single dad; details about his past are teased out slowly. Like most teens in this situation, Camille is not happy about the move. Before long, she is hanging out with characters that may be involved in shady activities.
The Break uses a couple of effective techniques to establish a mood and keep us intrigued. Most episodes open with dream sequences. Are they based on real events? And, we shift back and forth from the investigation to a series of sessions with Peeters and a psychiatrist. These happen after the main events in the story. Did Peeters have a “break” with reality? Something significant happened that we don’t know about.
The landscape also plays an important role here, beyond transitioning viewers from scene to scene. The region is heavily forested with rivers and ponds that figure in the story. The green colors are heavily saturated, and there is often a dreamy mist. It turns out there are plans to dam the river, displacing a number of local families. It’s another source of tension.
The Break shifts dramatically in the third episode, peeling back layers from the quaint village facade. Some may find it disturbing. There are clear influences in style and story from Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, where small town folks are up to no good. The opening credits and even some of the themes draw from the first season of True Detective. If you like those movies and series, The Break is a good fit.
Minor spoilers in this paragraph. Skip it if you don’t want to know! There are numerous threads in the story that may all tie together. Drug dealing, game fixing, bribery, livestock poisoning, sexual assault, domestic abuse, and an S&M club. It’s a lot of activity for a small village! A big part of the mystery is wondering how – and if – these are all connected.
The Break TV series was written by Benjamin d’Aoust, Matthieu Donck, and Stephane Bergmans and directed by Donck. It first aired in 2016 in several European countries. There are 10 episodes of The Break season 1, each 45 to 50 minutes, all on Netflix.
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‘The Break’ (La Trêve) Trailer
The trailer below is in French, but it will give you a taste for the series.