Loudun, October 1947. Leon Besnard and Marie celebrate their eighteenth wedding anniversary with friends and Ady, a former German prisoner they have "adopted". A few days later, Leon dies. ... See full summary »
Loudun, October 1947. Leon Besnard and Marie celebrate their eighteenth wedding anniversary with friends and Ady, a former German prisoner they have "adopted". A few days later, Leon dies. Louise, a friend of the couple's and probably Leon's mistress claims that, on his deathbed, the deceased told her that Marie was poisoning him. The whole town soon condemns Marie and she is arrested and sent to jail. Did she really kill Léon as well as twelve other members of her family as she finds herself charged with? Written by
Not being French I'd not heard of this case before so had no idea how the story would end, as I watched my opinion as to Marie Besnard's guilt or innocence changed more than once.
The programme opens with Simone, a reporter outside the final trail of alleged poisoner Marie Besnard before going back to where the story really started; the village of Loudun a few years after the war. Here Marie is living with her husband Léon and Aby, a German POW who remained after the war and now works for Marie. Soon afterwards Léon falls ill and dies. A friend of the family claims that he'd told her he'd been poisoned. At first nobody believes the accusation but after he is exhumed and arsenic is found in his body Marie is arrested and further exhumations occur, this time of other people near to Marie whom she had inherited money or land from.
As the story breaks young reporter hears of the case and as she was originally from Loudun she is determined to cover the case. The alleged poisonings aren't the only mystery for Simone in Loudun, she also wants to learn who denounced her mother as a collaborator after the war. Early on it seems that only Simone and her lawyer believe Marie to be innocent but as the expert witness's evidence is demolishing in court people start to believe that she is innocent. However while this is happening Simone starts to have doubts; why has Aby left France and was Marie guilty of covering up when her husband strangled his sister then made it look like suicide?
The acting was great, especially from Muriel Robin who played Marie in such away we couldn't be sure if she was hiding her guilt well or was genuinely innocent and Mélanie Bernier who was delightful as the reporter Simone. It wasn't just the main characters who were memorable, Olivier Saladin was a lot of fun as Auguste Leclerc, a witness with a highly theatrical manner who has to be dragged from the court at one point.
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