Another day and a new show has made its debut on Netflix. Notre-Dame is the latest French series that is not only based on a book but also on a real-life fire accident that took place in 2019. To give you a faint idea, it aligns with the recently released High Water.
Notre-Dame comes with six episodes under its belly and needs around 4.5 hours for a complete stream. Here is my review, where I discuss the highs and lows of this French series.
Notre-Dame Review Summary
It is a hard pill to swallow because of the overtly fictional presentation of an incident that shook France and the entire world.
In April 2019, Paris was shocked as the Notre-Dame cathedral caught fire. Three years later, this Netflix series tries to present a fictional tale of the real-life calamity.
Created by Herve Hadmar, Notre-Dame stars Roschdy Zem (Ducourt), Caroline Proust (Gabrielle Varese), Megan Northam (Alice), Simon Abkarian (Max), Alice Isaaz (Elena), Sandor Funtex (Antony), Marie Zabukovec (Victoire), and Rayad Mohamed (Billy), among others.
Interestingly, the series is written by the Paris Fire Department along with Romain Gubert.
What Works for Notre-Dame?
Though I wouldn’t say I liked the presentation, their efforts to craft several tales within the primary backdrop must be appreciated. A dwindling father-daughter relationship, lost love, and the pain of losing someone are the primary emotional settings in Notre-Dame.
You will enjoy the flow of stories and the transitions to some extent. However, a dilemmatic thought will occupy your mind throughout as the series keeps derailing from the main purpose.
Roschdy Zem, as General Ducourt, permeates the plot to make space for himself as the leader. His intense demeanor, fierce facial movements, and aggressive line of action allow Zem to carry the series. Additionally, a shrewd sense of awareness consistently connects you with the actor.
Caroline Proust is full of sensitivity and determination as Gabrielle Varese in Notre-Dame. Her screen presence feels profound in a well-balanced performance. Whether as an understanding colleague, or a fearless social servant, Proust ensures no loose ends from her side.
Megan Northam shines bright while playing Alice. Though her character’s actions might evoke mixed reactions, Megan’s hold on her surroundings is visible on the screen. The actress aces expressions and leaves an impact via her adeptness.
Simon Abkarian thrives in Notre-Dame. His acting prowess is, by far, the most commendable. The brilliantly utilized raw mien overpowers the authoritarian love he presents on screen. Many strands in his character make you want more of his presence.
Alice Isaaz portrays Elena and imbibes the requisite features of a journalist in the frenzy times of TRPs. She is sweet and works as a charm for Notre-Dame. The good thing about her act is its gradual accentuation.
Playing an edgy Victoire, Marie Zabukovec is potentially the storm Notre-Dame needed. Her emotional, intense, angry, sweet, and complicated shades improve the overall experience of watching the series. You may or may not like the show, but it would be hard to ignore Marie’s performance in the series.
Rayad Mohamed is the kid who will mesmerize you with his innocence. He plays Billy in Notre-Dame and beholds you whenever he occupies the screen.
What Doesn’t Work for Notre-Dame?
Juggling the screen, making the most of visual trepidations, and transiting between scenes are factors that make a show fascinating. However, too much of them is never advisable. More importantly, when the roots of a story lie in a genuine incident, intrigue shouldn’t accompany convolutedness.
Notre-Dame sets to bring forth the tragedy of a cathedral’s fire, but by the time it ends, you know more about unrelated characters than the cathedral itself.
Though the makers have made it evident that their intention was to highlight the lives of common people when the fire took place, it didn’t help the cause, in my opinion.
With many things going on, it is confusing to distinguish between reality and fiction. Though Notre-Dame doesn’t explicitly appear as a raw adaption of natural events, the central premise is known to the world.
It creates unnecessary mysteries to provoke intrigue, but they eventually reduce the credibility of the series. Specifically, how the makers used Bassem in the show was unwarranted and, ultimately, ostentatious.
I can equate Notre-Dame with High Water, but I wish it was like Thai Cave Rescue, which focused more on evacuation and the efforts of the rescuers. On the other hand, Notre-Dame doesn’t care much about the current efforts and tries to extract emotions from either the past of the firefighters or the present of outside characters.
Ideas like these don’t need to put heavy emphasis on stories. The more they remain objective, the better. However, Notre-Dame wants to do too much from the very beginning. And that’s where it begins to stray. Elements like hallucinations, memory-lapse, drug abuse, and several others are great to have, but not in a show that has a real-life tragedy at its core.
Lack of Depth
Notre-Dame leaves behind many vital aspects. After watching the entire series, you don’t get to know the actual reason behind the Notre-Dame fire, how much was the monetary loss, etc. But you are well aware of the lives of Bassem, Alice, Elena, Max, and Billy. Isn’t it appalling?
Notre-Dame will surely receive mixed reactions, but the overstuffing of fictional elements will probably be the decider.
What was the source of Notre-Dame fire?
Even after three years, the cause of the Notre-Dame fire remains a mystery. However, the majority of the investigations hint toward a short circuit.
What was saved by the firefighters in Notre-Dame fire 2019?
The rescuers were able to save the nave and twin bell towers of the cathedral, among other things.
Notre-Dame is based on which book?
The Netflix series is based on La Nuit De Notre-Dame (The Night of Notre-Dame).
Are the characters in Notre-Dame series real?
No, almost all the characters in the show are fictional.