Reviewed by: Adam Micklethwaite

"Though well executed, there isn’t a great deal to elevate the story beyond a solid genre piece." | Photo: UniFrance

The coming together of two prolific talents of French cinema (director Claude Chabrol and the epitome of Frenchness himself, Gérard Depardieu) provides the backdrop to an intriguing, if unspectacular, detective story which pays homage to Belgian crime novelist, Georges Simenon and his famous inspector Jules Maigret, protagonist of more than 100 novels.

Our story begins in the south of France, near Nimes, where the famous inspector Bellamy (Depardieu, who inhabits the role with ease) is holidaying peacefully with his wife Françoise (Marie Bunuel), but (like all off-duty police inspectors in the history of detective fiction) clearly pining for the cut and thrust of the day job. Cue the entrance of a mysterious stranger, Noel Gentil (Jaques Gamblin), with a problem which piques the inspector’s interest: he thinks he’s killed a man and he needs the inspector’s help.

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I won’t give any plot points away here, but the ensuing sequence involves an insurance scam, a bemused wife (Marie Matheron) and a seductive beauty therapist (Vahina Giocante). All are fairly standard tropes in a detective novel and, though well executed, there isn’t a great deal to elevate the story beyond a solid genre piece.

Meanwhile, the main story is interwoven with a second plot which involves the appearance and multiple misdemeanours of Bellamy’s wayward brother Jacques Lebas, a hard-drinking gambler with a penchant for things which don’t belong to him. Clovis Cornillac is excellent as Lebas and the scenes between him and Depardieu offer the most engaging dynamic and individual sequences of the film, a very well-crafted tension which is more interesting than the central plot.

Certainly not Chabrol’s best, but still an entertaining, if slightly old-fashioned detective story, whose real strength lies not in the crime-waiting-to-be-solved, but rather in its depiction of the Bellamy’s personal life and his relationships with those close to him – particularly his wife and his unruly brother.

Reviewed on: 29 Apr 2010
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A detective enjoying a quiet holiday in southern France finds himself caught up in an intriguing mystery.
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Director: Claude Chabrol

Writer: Odile Barski, Claude Chabrol

Starring: Gérard Depardieu, Clovis Cornillac, Vahina Giocante, Jacques Gamblin, Marie Bunel, Yves Verhoeven, Adrienne Pauly, Rodolphe Pauly, Marie Matheron

Year: 2009

Runtime: 110 minutes

Country: France

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