OTT Review: The Perfect Murder

French-German-Belgian limited series — originally Une Mère Parfaite — explores a mother’s dilemma as she grapples with her 20-year-old daughter being accused of a high-profile murder

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Sushmita Bose

Published: Thu 9 Jun 2022, 5:29 PM

The Perfect Mother, this could also be a tongue twister, what if you say The Perfect Murder? Well, it’s not really as “off” as it sounds — but let me not play spoiler! The Perfect Mother is about Hélène Berg (Julie Gayet), a French woman who lives in Berlin with her German husband Mathias (Andreas Pietschmann), and teenage son Lukas (Maxim Driesen). Her 20-year-old daughter Anya (Eden Ducourant) has moved recently to Paris to study. It begins on Hélène’s birthday when Anya calls her, not to wish her, but to say that she’s been on a murder scene involving the scion of a wealthy family and the police have put her down as a prime suspect.

From thereon, it becomes a tale of two cities, flitting sweepingly between Paris and Berlin (Paris as gorgeous as ever), as Hélène rushes down to Paris, and Mathias — a top-rung surgeon — stays back in Berlin to “take care” of Lukas (who has his own set of problems).

In Paris, Hélène turns to her ex, Vincent Duc (Tomer Sisley), a high-profile lawyer, for help, and the two of them try and piece together what could have happened to Anya.

There is the police/forensic version, and there is Anya’s version. Hélène, who constantly tries to remind herself that she has to be a perfect mother (since her own mother was far from perfect, their strained relationship being the reason why she moved from Paris — and Vincent), finds it easier to “believe” Anya, and even manages to convince Vincent — in parts — to see eye to eye with her.

But what may have actually happened keeps on twisting and turning as benders of lies and secrets keep popping up, with Hélène realising that she probably doesn’t even know her daughter (and also her son, as it turns out) who could be potentially gaslighting everyone — and her especially.

As she tries to absorb the shock, Hélène’s and Vincent’s feelings for each other are rekindled, and, without wanting to, Hélène gets mired back into her mother’s grasp.

The Perfect Mother is not just a cat-and-mouse psychological thriller; there are also relevant themes like woke-ism and zillennial angst, Europe’s migrants’ crisis, the rabbit hole of substance abuse, the dark complexities of spousal relationships, and, most tellingly, reality checks on parenting assumptions — in this case, being a perfect mother.

The best part about this eminently binge-able series is that it’s four episodes long — yes, you heard that right — and each episode is about 50 minutes. It doesn’t lose its punch, and stays tightly on course till the nail-biting end.

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