“The Attache” opens against the backdrop of the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris — but that’s only the tip of this dramatic iceberg.
The Israeli-French series, which unfolds in both Hebrew and French (with English subtitles), has landed on Acorn TV and is produced by Abot Hameiri, the company behind Netflix favorite “Shtisel.”
Creator and star Elie Ben-David based “The Attache” on his own experience of moving with his wife from Israel to Paris (for her job) in November 2015 — just as three separate Islamic terrorist attacks killed 130 people, including 90 victims at the Bataclan theatre.
That feeling of dread hangs over the narrative, but “The Attache” is more a sum of its parts than a straight-ahead crime drama or thriller. As the 10-episode series opens, Avshalom (Ben-David), the drummer for a successful Israeli rock band, agrees to relocate with his wife, Annabelle (Heloise Godet) and their 7-year-old son, Uri, to Paris when Annabelle accepts a yearlong internship at the city’s Israeli Embassy.
It’s a return home for Annabelle, born and raised in France and looking forward to reconnecting with her parents and friends. It’s a (somewhat reluctant) move for Avshalom and Uri, who don’t speak French — and, for Avshalom, it comes at an inopportune time as his band is putting the finishing touches on their new album.
If Avshalom and Annabelle thought that they were escaping the ever-present fear of hostilities in Israel, they’re brought crashing down to reality once the terrorist attacks are carried out and Paris goes on high alert while police search for the perpetrators. Avshalom reacts to the fear by insisting his family, especially Uri — who’s due to start preschool — stay holed up in their apartment, since the city’s atmosphere is rife with tension, heightened xenophobia and anti-Semitism. (Avshalom has a French lesson in a nearby cafe and is convinced he’s being followed by an Arab man in a hoodie.) Annabelle’s job requires her to spend her working day at the embassy and to participate in social functions, much to Avshalom’s chagrin and worry. They’re also trying to have another baby, adding one more layer of stress to their lives.
As the narrative progresses, fissures begin to show in the couple’s marriage as they deal with adjusting to their new lives, problems at work (or lack thereof, in Avshalom’s case) and the aftershocks of the terrorist attacks. Resentments bubble to the surface and “blame” is assigned in equal measure; both Avshalom and Annabelle feel they’ve sacrificed large chunks of their hopes and dreams for the greater good of the other.
There’s much more, of course, and “The Attache” moves along at a comfortable pace (it helps that each episode is no longer than 30 minutes). While it doesn’t quite pack an emotional gut-punch of, say, fellow Israeli series “Fauda,” it does offer interesting, multi-dimensional protagonists caught up in a situation that will test their mettle — and their love for each other.