Review: The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité)

Audrey Fleurot, Julie De Bona, and Camille Lou in The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité)

The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité) is a French language melodrama that begins with a real historical event. The event was an 1897 fire in Paris that burned down a building housing a charity bazaar. Over 100 women died in the fire. It’s streaming on Netflix.

Three fictional women who experienced the fire are the basis for the 8 episodes in season 1 of The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité). I’ll give you a description of the three women, which will introduce their particular part of the story.

Audrey Fleurot in The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité)

Adrienne (Audrey Fleurot) wasn’t actually in the building when it burned, although she was supposed to be. She was in a carriage smooching with Hugues (François-David Cardonnel). Hugues was not her husband. He was a journalist who would later help uncover the truth about how the fire started.

Adrienne’s husband Marc-Antoine (Gilbert Melki) was abusive and controlling. He was rich, powerful, and running for high office. When he learned Adrienne wanted a divorce, he had their daughter Camille (Rose de Kervenoaël) taken away as a means to control Adrienne. When Adrienne and Hugues weren’t kissing, they were talking about how Adrienne could get her daughter and escape her husband’s clutches.

Julie De Bona and Lucian Perez in The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité)

Rose (Julie de Bona), a maid, was in the building. Ironically, she was watching little Thomas (Adrien Guionnet). Thomas turned out to be an important part of her future, but the night of the fire she was just minding him for his mother. Rose was married to the coachman Jean (Aurélien Wiik). They had just purchased tickets to America and a new life.

Camille Lou and Victor Meutelet in The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité)

Alice (Camille Lou) was there with her maid Rose. She was kind to everyone but took special notice of a lower class man in the crowd named Victor (Victor Meutelet). They had one of those long look moments with each other. When the building was collapsing all around them, Victor went back inside to save Alice.

Alice’s rich intended future husband Julien (Théo Fernandez) was in the fire, too. Like other men, he pushed aside women to save himself. Alice’s parents really needed her to marry the rich guy, but she switched her allegiance to Victor after the fire. Adrienne sister was Alice’s mother.

Everything I just described happened in the first episode. The first episode was brilliantly done. The fire scenes were fantastic and terrifying. The remainder of the season is about the 3 women and their lives following the fire.

Josiane Balasko, Gilles Cohen, Antoine Duléry, Stéphane Guillon, Gilbert Melki, Florence Pernel, Aurélien Wiik, Audrey Fleurot, François-David Cardonnel, Julie De Bona, Théo Fernandez, Victor Meutelet, and Camille Lou in The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité)
The cast of characters

It took a big cast to tell the story. There were corrupt politicians, investigators, cops, journalists, newsboys, anarchists, devious mothers-in-law, near bankrupt parents, philandering fake husbands, and pretend children. The costumes and opulent sets of the rich people in the story were fabulous.

False identities, faked deaths, and loving below your class were just a few of the plot lines that our three heroines became involved in as the story spun its magic. The guillotine situated in the middle of the frame in every episode was set to whisk off the head of one of those characters. Some characters plotted to put him on the chopping block, while others worked to prove his innocence.

Exciting things like stabbings, shootings, bonking on the head with metal pipes, and men knocking women about figured into resolving some of the problems. The climactic scenes in the final episode had the three women’s stories in a good place. It felt like the series could end after those 8 episodes and be complete. But The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité) was specifically labeled Season 1, so there may be plans to carry on with the women’s lives with new drama in the future. They were strong, willful, interesting women.

The series was created by Catherine Ramberg.

Poster for The Bonfire of Destiny

The series is in French, but this trailer is dubbed in English.

What did you think of this exciting drama? Would you like to see a second season?

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Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia finally retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. She's Old Ain't Dead!

14 thoughts on “Review: The Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité)”

  1. Maybe watching it in France where you know the language makes a difference. Maybe the actors are great actors but……. the people who are doing the voice overs in English are terrible. I can’t watch past the first episode because the “acting” is so bad.

    1. If you can deal with the subtitles, it’s much better to have the audio in French with subtitles. There should be a way for you to tell Netflix that’s how you want it. That way you hear the real actors acting instead of bad dubbing.

  2. I absolutely LOVED this series! I cannot watch foreign films/series with it dubbed because it takes away from the authenticity. I’d recommend watching it without being dubbed and with English subtitles and you’ll sure enjoy it. Overall, I loved the story and how the lives of the 3 women were intertwined. It was very emotional and the acting was very convincing.

  3. I watched it in French with the subtitles and loved it! Just finished last episode today and already can’t wait for another season to see how the story continues for the three man characters.

  4. I loved the series. I watched on Netflix. It was in English (USA) although you can tell the actors were speaking French. Great acting, great story lines. Loved the happy ending!!! I even looked up the actual event of the fire of 1897. Sad for those that died. Loved the series and would highly recommended watching.

  5. Hi It would be nice to have the right names : the actor for young Thomas is Adrien Guionnet. You put the name of the dubber…

    1. I will take your word for it and change it, however IMDB lists Thomas twice, once with the actor Adrien Guionnet and once with the actor Lucian Perez. I think I picked the one with the photo and didn’t notice the other name. Odd that the name of a dubber would make it into the cast list on IMDB.

      1. As I’m Adrien’s mother, I think I know who played the part, lol. Thanks You can also check just by making a search. Adrien’s picture is easy to find 😉

  6. And it is the same for camille for example where on IMDB, you have both the names of the little girl who played and the dubber. Don’t ask me why…

    1. Did I get the right girl for Camille? I usually rely on IMDB for everything about cast members. It is really unusual for people doing voices to be listed there. You’d have dubbers from so many different languages for a popular series like this one! I can only think that whoever did the listing for the series was new at the job. Many different people contribute to IMDB.

      I’m sure you’re proud of the great job Adrien did in the film. Thank you for setting me straight.

Comments are appreciated!