A mythical serie ?
Serie. Subutex on TV, it’s good dope!
Virginie Despentes’ novel becomes a miniserie in nine episodes directed by Cathy Vernet. Interview.
Text and interview by Caroline Veunac
Reading time 3 min.
A record dealer who closed his shop, who is homeless, squats from a flat to another and recalls his former friends, resigned or sellout, of the memory of their past freedom. Well, we know the story. In order to adapt it, the show makes (almost) all the good choices. Starting with the choice of the scriptwriter, Cathy Vernet, a social comedies’ author (Hard, Fais pas ci, fais pas ça). She’s from the same generation than Despentes and then she’s able to apprehend the vividness, and melancholy of this chronicle of a counter-culture absorbed by ultra-liberalism. 30min episodes could have been too tight. In fact, this format appropriate for “dramedy” perfectly reproduces the way the novel is structured in chapters, each one dedicated to a member of the group, following Subutex’s wandering, from one old friend to another. We just regret Vernon Subutex is a bit short: the miniserie sums up in nine episodes the to first volumes of the novel (the third one has been published after they started writing the show), and gives the impression, in the end especially, to be compressed in order to finish the story at all costs. Whereas it would have deserved a second season.
As in the novel,
music is an important element
of the show
It’s especially true as the cast is electrifying. Embodying Vernon and the others without disappointing the imaginary projections of the novel’s readers is making bold choices (the singer Fishback, surprising Anaïs), wise choices (Philippe Rebot interpreting Xavier), clever choices (Céline Sallette, her killer look and androgynous elegance in the role of La Hyène)… And even miraculous choices, since Vernon Subutex is played by Romain Duris. Twenty five years after Le Péril Jeune, the actor grew old with us and he just needs to walk around a street in the East of Paris, with his juvenile gait and beautiful face, to be the body of lost ideals. But Duris doesn’t only carry ghosts: playing Subutex with an astonishing conviction, he also delivers one of his most amazing performances.
And there’s also the music. As in the novel, it’s an important part of the show (see our video interview with Matthieu Sibony ).