It sort of feels like everything streaming in 2021 has either been a highly acclaimed miniseries, true crime drama, or trending French show. So it makes perfect sense that HBO decided to make all three at the same time.
Laetitia is a six-part HBO Original miniseries directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade (who won an Oscar for Murder on a Sunday Morning in 2002), and starring Marie Colomb (Sunshine State of Mind) and Sophie Breyer (Raw). Colomb plays the titular Laetitia, an 18-year-old waitress living with her foster parents in western France, who goes missing one night in January. Her scooter is found knocked over by the side of the road, and no one seems to know where she’s gone. Laetitia is described by everyone as being a happy, friendly, angelic presence, but the more we learn about her background, the more she is revealed as a victim of abuse putting on a brave face for the world.
Laetitia’s twin, Jessica (played by Breyer), is the one left to handle the weight of her sister’s disappearance. She’s more reserved than Laetitia, more boyish and gawky. In flashbacks to the twins’ childhood, their trauma responses become more apparent, coming to define their personalities as adults.
The first episode, released on Monday night, plays out much like a typical police procedural, with clues dropped at just a steady enough pace to keep the audience riveted. But you shouldn’t be afraid of spoilers – the show is based off of a real case from 2011, surrounding the murder of Laetitia Perrais. Though the HBO version is fictionalized, it’s not sensationalized in the least, and feels like a typically melancholic French drama. Themes of sexual abuse and assault run throughout, as do the challenges of class divides, and it will be interesting to see where the male-dominated cast chooses to take this story of a young woman who spent her entire life, up until her last moments, harmed at the hands of men.