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There are a couple of things you should know about Anthracite. The first is that it’s strange, and gets stranger as it goes so fast you might think it has entered a competition. Second, the show is grim, going to some places that you won’t expect and wishing that it didn’t.

This may amaze you but they’re not criticisms. But forewarned is forearmed.

Anthracite is an impressively compelling French Netflix thriller whose creative brilliance makes its twists unpredictable at all angles when appropriately approached. Instead of elegant artistic styles in the initial episodes, rotten plot developments put an exceptional cast through the ringer physically and emotionally. You probably won’t understand what exactly happened by the end but definitely know for sure that something was there.

I will only outline the basic idea since much of it does not matter as expected though. Basically, (nearly) everything revolves around a cult within Levionna, a village in French Alps with its Christ-like leader Caleb Johansson (Stefano Cassetti) being the sole survivor of mass suicide.

Thirty years later journalist Solal Heilman (Jean-Marc Barr), who had covered this case earlier, returns to Levionna and promptly vanishes. To go after him out there his internet-savvy daughter Ida (Noémie Schmidt) engages with Jaro (Hatik), an employee at one of the ski resorts whom Solal finds mysteriously intriguing.

In no time, Jaro gets implicated in a murder strangely akin to one once committed by Caleb while Giovanna’s keeping up with them serves these teenagers right lately having undergone a sort of mental breakdown…

That’s enough now; let’s be careful here because I do not want to make any kind of hints about anything here… Enough said though this is just scraping the surface for this drama; however one great thing about Anthracite is finding out where each insane twist leads us.

This tone changes immediately, by the way. Ida’s online detectives with their lack of social skills are not as funny as they seem, too soon for that. Instead, the bolder storylines take precedence over any stylistic touches.

I don’t say this about many shows, but Anthracite will probably be too much for some. Not like really too much like unwatchable or sickeningly wrong, but just plain excessive in terms of having too much information and stories to follow. Sometimes it seems a little self-indulgent during its most outlandish periods because it focuses more on shocking things than developing meaningful plots.

Moreover, it does not seem to know what it is talking about either. The story involves cults and internet sleuths and small town people who hate exploitative firms but these are not subjects the series dwells on any more than one thing after another.

It treats genre this way too. A single scene may include coming-of-age elements followed by teenage love affairs then changed into police actions and eventually supernatural thrillers.

Having said that, these are just minor complaints. It has a compelling central mystery and the acting is dynamic and engaging. The Alpine landscape is stunning, and if shock value were viewed as an asset… Anthracite has it in droves.

It’ll be interesting to see how this divides audiences in the coming weeks since it definitely will, but it’ll also be fun to witness people having a blast with its bigger swings. However, consider this a mildly advised one with some pretty large reservations.

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