If you like murder mysteries, then chances are you’ve already gobbled up “Mare of Easttown” on HBO Max, maybe even in one sitting. We don’t blame you. Kate Winslet is spectacular as Mare, a small-town detective who must investigate the death of a local girl while dealing with past tragedies of her own. Besides Winslet’s unflinching and electrifying performance, the series stands out for its remarkably authentic portrayal of life in post-industrial Pennsylvania, where the days always feel overcast, everyone knows too much about each other, and no one is really as they seem. If you live for these gritty murder mysteries set in small towns brewing with secrets, then you’ll want to immerse yourself in the equally gray world of “Beau Séjour.”
Though “Beau Séjour” is set on the other side of the globe in a Belgian village called Lanklaar, the town is like a mirror reflection of Easttown. Predominantly working class, semi-rural, and perpetually brooding, Lanklaar is home to a community that’s as secretive as it is insular. Sound familiar? Besides Easttown’s largely Irish Catholic population, the two towns are practically identical. However, there is one major distinction between the two series: “Beau Séjour”’s murder mystery is being investigated by the victim herself.
Kato wakes up one morning at the Hotel Beau Séjour, only to find herself looking down at her own dead body. Stuck in a limbo between life and death, she goes around town looking for answers and realizes that she’s invisible to everyone—except for five people. Why these individuals and what’s the connection between them? With the detectives stumped, Kato will have to solve her own murder. But as she tries to connect the dots, the people she thought she knew so well, from best friends to her own father, start revealing hidden secrets, and soon everyone becomes a potential suspect.
The series’ murder premise is intriguing on its own, but, like “Mare of Easttown,” what really strengthens “Beau Séjour” is the characters themselves and their raw portrayal of local life, albeit with a supernatural twist. Both series use murder mysteries as vehicles for their storytelling, but they are, at their core, character dramas. Each one delves deep into the complex, guarded, and oftentimes deceptive relationships between people in provincial towns and how those relationships can influence a murder investigation. If you probe into someone’s life long enough, you’re bound to find some sort of dirt. Nothing speeds up that process like a shocking murder in a small town.
Watch “Beau Séjour” now, only on Topic.