The Bureau

Rating 8.8
Streamer Amazon Prime
Seasons 5
Episodes 50 x 60 mins

If you don’t mind watching with subs, it’s well worth popping over la manche via streamer and checking out the smash-hit espionage thriller from the French screenwriter, Éric Rochant. It’s time to meet Malotru – secoué, pas remué.

Malotru (Mathieu Kassovitz) is our main man. At least, that’s his code name – his full name is Guillaume Debailly. He’s an undercover agent for the French intelligence service, who has just got back from a six-year stint in Damascus, and now he’s struggling to drop the alias he spent so long building, and reconnect with his wife, daughter and past life. And fate isn’t working in his favour either, as he bumps into his Syrian beau Nadia, putting both of their lives at risk and triggering the beginning of a web of lies which snowballs as he desperately attempts to do the right thing. At least, what he thinks is right…

Well, we can probably all relate to being changed by an extended period in one place – Team Must have forgotten how to tie our laces and wear outside clothes, and you may well see us later in the year, wandering around outside Must HQ in our slippers.

The Bureau has dropped the espionage stereotypes of strong jawed spy who shags his way round the world whilst nabbing a few bad guys on the way, instead opting for a more intimate look at the human impact of espionage. But don’t worry, they’ve kept in the good bits from the spy classics – there’s plenty of cool, techy gadgets and scandalous storylines.

Want a more light-hearted French watch? Try Call My Agent!

It’s seriously gripping, thanks largely to superb writing of Rouchant, who based the story on accounts from former spies within France’s Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, and in particular those who took on deep-cover, long-term missions in areas such as North Africa and the Middle East. This is likely why the human element of the show feels so prominent when watching – we can’t help but become enthralled by Debailly’s complex situation, and willing it to work out.

Forbes’s Sheena Scott reckons “this is one of the most intelligent, gripping and brilliantly written and directed series at the moment,” saying “the image is raw and realistic enhancing the actors’ performances.” And Mike Hale of The New York Times says it’s “consistently smart and understated,” and “recalls the paranoid American film thrillers of the 70s.” No surprise, then, that it’s listed in a recent Guardian article of best foreign language dramas.  

Check out our favourite foreign language shows here

First shown April 2015. You can watch the trailer here:

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