Updated: May 30
Director: Patrice Leconte
If you love French films that drip with unmistakably melancholic tones and darkly romantic themes you will love ‘Maigret’.
The character ‘Maigret’ is the French counterpoint to Christie’s Hercule Poirot. He is an esteemed detective who solves those cases that are deemed the most inexplicable.
The luminous glow of street lighting; the corpse of a beautiful young girl dressed in an expensive white satin gown; the claustrophobic relationship of a high society French mother and her spoilt son; a lavish wedding party in refined old club; the grey, cold interior of a city's morgue …. so much on which to feast the eyes and/or imagination.
Gerard Depardieu plays Maigret as a detective who is world wearied. Our detective has the type of existential tiredness that could only accompany a life that has seen too many dead bodies, too many damaged lives, too many broken people. His doctor worries for his health as he has lost his taste for food, tobacco, and implicitly all those other things so important to the French. (Too be honest, the enormous outline of Depardieu makes the fact that Maigret is off his food a wee bit unbelievable).
The charm of this film is how this big, sad detective constructs the life of a dead young country girl from the tiniest of details. Her dress is expensive though dated, while her lingerie is chain-store cheap. She is a pretty young girl but she is sad and lonely (the pharmacist who issued her laudanum was worried for her well-being), she has no money but she quite obviously expects an injection of cash just round the corner …
‘Maigret’ drips with gorgeous details that when lined up by our talented detective, reveal the story of a young girl’s life and, at the same time, allow the emotionally exhausted Maigret to reclaim his own.
Unquestionably French from the location where the body of our jolie fille was found (9th arrondissement’s Place Vintimille) to the exploration of the lifestyle of the haute monde, every film frame will have you yearning to take your petit déjeuner at a little sidewalk café in Paris.