Saturday, January 8, 2011

Inspector Bellamy (Rhoades)

“Inspector Bellamy” Takes a Holiday
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Remember that French classic, “Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday”? Where a guy goes to a beachside hotel for a vacation, but causes havoc?

Well, in this French film – “Inspector Bellamy” – a famous detective takes a vacation with his wife to the family house in Nîmes. And a brain-teasing mystery lands on the inspector’s doorstep.
Those Frenchmen and their annual sojourns to relax!

“Inspector Bellamy” is currently enjoying a holiday at the Tropic Cinema.
Overweight, rutabaga-nosed Gallic actor Gérard Depardieu stars as Inspector Paul Bellamy, a sleuth not unlike Inspector Maigret of the Georges Simenon novels. His wife Françoise is played by Marie Bunel in a warm, affectionate Thin Man manner.

In this lighthearted, old-fashion mystery a suspicious-looking fellow called Noël Gentil (Jacques Gamblin) interrupts Inspector Bellamy’s holiday to confess to a murder. Well, not exactly a murder, more of an insurance scam where he staged his own death in order to get his wife’s life insurance money so he could run away with his girlfriend (Vahina Giocante). But M. Gentil’s scheme has gone awry.
So this is actually more of a “what happened?” than a “whodunit?”

French film director Claude Chabrol is considered a master in the mystery genre. His 57 films – with titles like “Dirty Hands,” “The Girl Cut in Two,” “Blood Relatives,” “The Nada Gang,” and “The Champagne Murders” – prove the point. This was his last film, for he died last year at the age of 80. A film critic and historian who became a director, Chabrol is considered the founder of the French film movement known as Nouvelle Vague.

European movies show ordinary people’s lives being lived at an ordinary pace. This film too ambles along, at times dull and meandering, with far too many subplots. It appears to be the work of a director who had lost his stamina for hardboiled thrillers.

This was Chabrol’s first time working with Gérard Depardieu. The iconic actor dominated the French cinema during the ’80s and ’90s, winning two Césars as Best Actor for “The Last Metro” and his nose-perfect role in “Cyrano de Bergerac.”

Chabrol modeled the character of Inspector Bellamy partially on Depardieu’s personality, partly on the fictional Inspector Maigret. A clue is found in the closing credits, where Chabrol dedicates the film to “the two Georges.” These are French singer-songwriter Georges Brassens (whose music appears as a plot device in the movie) and the prolific Belgian-born mystery writer Georges Simenon. In fact, there’s a Maigret novel in which the Parisian detective goes on vacation with his wife, but then becomes involved in a case (“Les Vacances de Maigret”).

It’s obvious that both Inspector Maigret and his doppelgänger Inspector Bellamy are happiest when solving a mystery. You might call it a busman’s holiday.
[from Solares Hill]

No comments: