Thursday, 21 December 2017

LES PETITS MEURTRES D'AGATHA CHRISTIE: LE CRIME DE NOËL (FRANCE 2)

[Spoiler-free] It's Christmas time. Commissaire Laurence (Samuel Labarthe) complains that there's no crime until he investigates the murder of... Santa Claus. And he must protect a very special witness.

Alice Avril (Blandine Bellavoir) returns to a sinister place.

On a Christmas market, Alice and Marlène Leroy (Élodie Frenck) meet a strange man dressed as Santa Claus who distributes banknotes. Two children, Louison Sauvage and her brother Baptiste, escape from the Sainte-Cécile orphanage during the night. In the empty market, the generous "Santa" appears in front of the kids when he's suddenly shot dead. Baptiste disappears while Laurence, Avril and Marlène find Louison in the street. The little girl stays at Swan's appartment for her own safety, much to the commissaire's annoyance. 

Regrettably for the love of singing (and for ears in general), Marlène is the member of a choir. Alice knows Sainte-Cécile too well and when she investigates inside the orphanage, disguised as a teacher, bad memories surface. Written by Thierry Debroux and directed by Rodolphe Tissot, Le Crime de Noël is the first Christmas special of the French hit series Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie. It's also the first time that the script is not based on a book of the famous English author. Though not a firework, this honorable Christmas celebration (tomorrow on France 2) is in line with the quality standards of the popular crime comedy-drama.

Samuel Labarthe gets once again the best of the episode, including great dialogues. Marlène's renditions of Douce nuit, sainte nuit and Mon beau sapin will stay as anthological moments thanks to the irresistible Élodie Frenck. And Cyril Gueï proves that the character of Timothée Glissant is one of the best things that happened to Les petits meurtres in recent years. Dominique Thomas (Tricard) has not much to do, not even Santa in the end. Although similar tricks were used in the past, Alice's encounter in the orphanage is a bit far-fetched. Le Crime de Noël lacks the sparks of the previous episode written by Debroux (L'homme au complet marron) but it's still a good Christmas treat. 

The excellent Christiane Millet plays Madame Hautin, the orphanage director who makes Roald Dahl's Miss Trunchbull (Matilda) look like an amateur. Also with Elina Solomon (Louison), Julien Bouanich (Gaston), Franck Andrieux (Max), Loïc Legendre (Geoffroy Dopagne), Zoé Schellenberg (Mireille Dopagne), Julien Ledet (Baptiste Sauvage), Merlin Delarivière (Rudy), Mathieu Maricau (Bouboule), Soizic Naeyaert (La petite fille), etc. Éric Beauchamp plays Agent Martin. Fans' favourite Bubulle (Marlène's goldfish) is mentioned in the end credits. Co-produced by Escazal Films and France Télévisions, with the support of Pictanovo and Région Hauts-de-France.

Produced with the participation of TV5 Monde and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. Sophie Révil is the producer. Laurent Chiomento exec produces. Main characters created by Sylvie Simon and Thierry Debroux. Music composed by Stéphane Moucha. Bertrand Mouly is the cinematographer. Production designed by Moundji Couture. Costumes by Sophie Dussaud. Edited by Loïc Jaspard. Cédric Le Maoût is the assistant director in charge of the children. Main title sequence designed by Romain Segaud. Like in Drame en trois actes, the end credits are accompanied by behind-the-scenes images. Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie is available in the U.S. on VOD service MHZ Choice.

(Amandine Attard contributed to this review)   

http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/233077/article/2017-10-03/il-neige-rue-alexandre-leleux-pour-un-episode-des-petits-meurtres-d-agatha
http://www.francetvpro.fr/france-2/programmes/10299997 

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