Maigret Sets A Trap (2016 Britain)

So much effort was expended on getting the atmosphere of the whole thing right that tension and a plausible story went by the board. Another old serial killer plot? It may have been bold and edgy in 1955 when Georges Simenon penned the novel, but the subject has been explored endlessly from every possible angle these past few  generations that its hard not to stifle a yawn. The film looks authentic enough even if it was filmed in Budapest. But it gives us a Paris that is about as quiet as a sleepy village in Provence. The viewer never gets to see any bustle in this city, but I guess when you saddle yourself with a 1950’s setting, the correct vehicles are not that easy to come by, and it has that shot-on-an-early Sunday morning look.

A lot of money was obviously spent on the production and it is an arty looking number with dimly lit alleyways and shadows on walls à la “The Third Man”. However the pace is glacial and makes an episode of David Suchet’s “Poiret” seem like “Fast & Furious 7.” Set in 1950’s (sorry to repeat that fact) Paris , the plot follows Rowan Atkinson’s Maigret as he sets a trap for the killer of five women in Montmartre. Eventually he closes in on a suspect, but the biggest surprise is that the creators of the show were happy to go with a credulity – stretching explanation for all of the murders. A few French, or at least Continental, actors would not have gone amiss. The sheer Englishness of the whole thing does break the mood somewhat.

But there are plenty of good points too. If you are sick of depraved modern dramas with high levels of toxic violence and 21st century dysfunction, then Maigret is pleasingly old fashioned and quite peaceful. I enjoyed the slow flow and unraveling of the many seemingly unimportant scenes and subplots in this very well crafted film. As for some specific details: there are poor and struggling families with small children that will lose their mother; there are inner courtyards where housekeepers lurk behind their curtains and labourers drag their tired feet. There are lots of basement wine bars with barrels and men nurturing their glass of wine, beer or cognac. What else? There are lots of young hardworking women, all of them attractive in their cheap after-war dresses and blouses. Some of them are telephone operators, some of them strippers and dancers, and there is an entire police squad of brave young women ready to risk their lives on the dangerous streets of Paris, no questions asked.

There are plenty of suspects, quirky aspiring upper middle class characters in their slick apartments, struggling to appear respectable but hiding terrible secrets. Not to mention the hard boiled police officers, the dungeons of Quay d’Orfevre full of shady alcoholics, the drug users and other sinners. We also have journalists, thirsty for any information but some of them familiar with Maigret’s disorganized way of operating. In the middle of all this is Maigret himself; the pipe smoking detective who is never in a hurry. Many have sneered at the casting of Rowan Atkinson, but I am willing to go with the flow. At least he has a small ego and is understated in speech – a blessing these days. I’d rather watch him than the motormouthed Peter Capaldi, or the mumbling David Tenant. Full marks on the casting of the sensual Lucy Cohu too. She’s adds a touch of class and fills out her costumes nicely. 🙂

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Comments

  1. Interesting, it sounds quite hit-and-miss but I’ll still check it out (if only to see Rowan Atkinson’s performance out of curiosity). Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Be patient with it and you should have a pleasant experience. 🙂

    Like

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