Thursday, 14 December 2017


Crime pays, crime sells. French television fiction is a huge police station, particularly on pubcaster France 3. People die more in their dramas than in Midsomer County. Anyway, France 3 airs Midsomer Murders

After Meurtres à... (the answer of the channel to Germany's Tatort) or Crime à, France 3 launches next tuesday a new collection called Crimes parfaits.

The bottom line: The France 3 Tuesday Mystery Movie.

In Crimes parfaits, which consists for now of 6 x 52-minute episodes, a murderer known from the beginning thinks he has committed the perfect crime. The detective on the case (different in every couple of episodes) proves the criminal wrong. It's an inverted detective story, a concept popularized by Columbo though created in literature many years before the famous lieutenant. France 3 happens to be the home of megahit Capitaine Marleau, starring Corinne Masiero as an offbeat, sharp-minded and quick-witted sleuth without a first name but with a chapka and a parka. Columbo is one of the acknowledged influences of the character.

Coincidentally (or not) Crimes parfaits starts on a very familiar territory. In its first two episodes, Isabelle Gélinas plays Agnès, an unconventional police captain dressed like Janis Joplin and wearing a "Nuclear Power? No Thanks" button. Agnès hates the GPS, cell phones, as well as high tech. She shares her life between two sympathetic men (perfectly aware of the situation). Just in case viewers didn't notice Captain Obvious, Agnès has an uptight and by-the-book sidekick named Thibaud, a kind of cousin of Marleau's Adjudant Brière. He's played by Arthur Mazet, who does the job very well.

In Un bon chanteur est un chanteur mort, the first episode, special guest star Gérard Darmon plays Frank Lopsis, a music producer whose glory days are way behind him. His only chance to re-emerge is Jibé (the excellent Elliot Jenicot of la Comédie-Française), a singer who made a new album with him. Except that Jibé wants to end their partnership, so Lopsis decides to murder him and he makes his crime look as a suicide. The second episode (Aux innocents les mains pleines) guest stars Frédéric Diefenthal as Nathan Joliez. The man viciously murders his business associate, who lives with his ex-wife.

Overall, the two cases of Capitaine Agnès burst with cliches and terrible dialogues. Aux innocents les mains pleines manages to be a little better than Un bon chanteur est un chanteur mort thanks to a (minor) plot twist and Frédéric Diefenthal's performance. Also starring Franck Adrien (Philippe), Laurent Fernandez (Micha), Thomas Walch (Max), etc. Written by Didier Le Pêcheur, who also directs, and Delphine Labouret. Un bon chanteur est un chanteur mort and Aux innocents les mains pleines are co-produced by Éléphant Story and France Télévisions, with R.T.B.F. (Télévision belge), RTS (Radio Télévision Suisse) and TV5 Monde

Produced by Guillaume Renouil, who exec produces with Gaëlle Cholet. Thierry Bizot and Emmanuel Chain are the associate producers. Filmed on location in Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur with its support.  Music by Jean-Pierre TaïebHopefully, the next four episodes will be more interesting. In one of them, Antoine Duléry plays the detective vs Samuel Labarthe, his successor in Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie.

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