PARALLELS Contains Some Heartwarming, Redemptive Messages
Published: May 16, 2022
PARALLELS Contains Some Heartwarming, Redemptive Messages
By Movieguide® Contributor
PARALLELS is a six-episode French streaming series, written by Quoc Dang Tran and Anastasia Heinzl, dubbed in English, and available on Disney+. Four close high school friends, Victor, Sam, Romane, and Bilal, celebrate Bilal’s birthday party at a mysterious, abandoned bunker in the woods. They become the accidental subjects of a particle accelerator test and separate over time and dimensions.
This event leaves each of the friends devastated. Sam is left alone with an older man whom he eventually discovers is a 15-years-older Bilal. Bilal is now married and has kids, but other than brief flashes, his memory picks up from the moment the friends separated. To Sam and Bilal, Sam’s younger brother, Victor, and the girl in their group, Romane, vanish. To Victor and Romane, Sam and Bilal are gone. As the characters attempt to reconnect while dealing with life after this incident, Sofia, Bilal’s mother and a scientist at a nuclear research facility, becomes their mentor as she herself explores this new situation.
In Victor and Romane’s world, Victor and Sam’s parents blame Victor for Sam’s disappearance. After four years, Victor is reasonably bitter, thinking people are out to get him. He even blames himself for what he knows is not his fault. Romane deals with the stresses of knowing the future, and Bilal struggles with not knowing the past he seems to have left behind. Even the steady Sam reels from these events. It’s up to Sofia to make sure the kids stay alive and don’t do things that might seriously destroy their lives. Hopefully in the process of trying to turn back time and return to the starting point, friends and family won’t fall away from the things and the people they hold so dear.
The show shows how beautiful and precious love is. The family themes in this show form a crucial part of the plot. The show is pro-life, and this is apparent when a doctor announces a couple’s pregnancy is something to be proud of. With support for justice and mercy in situations with family and friends, PARALLELS’ primary worldview is Biblical, with positive subtle and allegorical references to Christianity. The show subtly asks and answers questions about Christian themes and contains a hopeful message about sacrifice and redemption. Someone stops a woman from lighting a candle in a Catholic church by frightening her, causing her to run out of the church. By what the show chooses to reveal to the audience beforehand, it clearly shows this hurtful act as a bad thing.
The show touches on the multiverse theory that there are infinite versions of a person. This idea could lead to the belief that what one version of a person does has no meaning because the choice would be only one of infinite choices and thus inevitable. However, the show clearly states that actions have consequences, and it manages to keep the focus and the intent of the story on family, friendship, and the characters’ unity and love as friends.
In depicting these character’s lives, the show has some content that parents should be mindful of when showing the entertainment to their kids. There is some language; characters use “dang” or “dang it” multiple times and it forms a substantial part of the show, an identifying part of certain characters’ dialogue. Two times there are heart attacks, and one scene has a dead and rotting animal for half a second. Things and people turn old in moments. One character pulls down his shirt collar to show scars. If one counts that scene, there are two instances of partial upper male nudity. In the other, one character also feels his private area under his pants, surprised that he has grown up.
There are several moments of light sexual content. For example, several characters kiss, including married people. It’s also implied that some people had children before being married, but this is established only by how the kids and parents act and talk to each other and from minor observable clues, such as a kid being in the story before a wedding ring is shown.
A character has a gambling addiction, although games are only depicted briefly. His gambling hurts other characters, and this is clear. Several characters lie, though many of the lies get resolved by the end. One character steals from a family’s store of alcohol, and kids sneak out at night without their parents knowing. In fact, various incidents of lying and deception pepper the story. However, these often have negative consequences that are shown, and towards the end, characters acknowledge that lying breaks trust. In another scene, one character claims to not have lied to another, and the scene clearly shows that to be important.
A few adults have a drink or offer alcohol. A young teenager tries to open a bottle to drink, presumably with his friends, but he accidentally breaks it. Please note that the legal drinking age in France is 18 or if with adults, 16. These children were under 16 and not with adults. In any case, the cultural reaction is less severe; it was more of an issue that a character stole the bottle from his family. Later on, the show treats this stealing and attempted underage drinking as wrongful actions, as they become issues with parents.
In summary, much of the negative or unpleasant content is story-based and not gratuitous.
The technical aspects are masterfully executed overall. The cinematography shows story-appropriate work and brilliant moments. Editing has an artful color grade and smooth transitions between dimensions. The music intrigues and speaks to the themes of the story. The writing is excellent and the dialogue feels real all the way to the climactic scene. Here at the most important moment, each character delivers the words to show he or she spares no effort. They try their hardest to accomplish the goal at hand while at the same time staying true to their own characters. The first season comes to a self-contained end but with a well-posed possibility for a second season, showing masterful writing.
On the negative side, the dubbing is mostly rough. The acting feels authentic, but for some instances, the original acting in French might be better than the voice acting in English.
Overall, PARALLELS is technically sound, heartwarming, and a rare gem about time travel, unity, and friendship. It contains subtle support of traditional family values through the well-structured interactions between the characters. Movieguide® advises discernment for older children and teenagers.
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