Monday, 23 September 2019


[Swiss transmission order] French pubcaster France 3's detective drama Crimes parfaits is a "semi-anthology" where a murderer known from the start thinks he/she has committed the perfect crime but a detective (different in every couple of episodes) proves him/her wrong. 

It's the concept of the inverted detective story, popularized by Columbo though created in literature many years before the famous lieutenant.

France 3 is the home of Capitaine Marleau, the ratings juggernaut created by Elsa Marpeau and starring Corinne Masiero as an offbeat gendarme without a first name. Columbo is one of the acknowledged influences of the character. Coincidentally (or not), cousins to the eccentric female sleuth regularly pop up on the channel. Julie Depardieu stars as a whimsical pathologist in Alexandra Ehle, a series written by its creator... Elsa Marpeau. Before that, Crimes parfaits was launched in 2017 with a couple of episodes starring Isabelle Gélinas as Agnès (no last name), an unconventional police captain.


Agnès hates the GPS, cell phones, as well as high tech. She shares her life between two sympathetic men (perfectly aware of the situation). Enough to confuse Thibaud, her uptight and by-the-book lieutenant, played by Arthur Mazet. Later, Crimes parfaits introduced viewers to Marleau's newest relative: Police captain Louise Bonne (actress and humorist Julie Ferrier). Isabelle Gélinas and Arthur Mazet returned several times and now they're back again in Comme un froid entre nous and Au théâtre ce soir. But this time their characters have last names: Agnès Bertaud and Thibaud Demazière.

Both episodes were penned by Didier Le Pêcheur & Delphine Labouret. Daniel Marlin, the murderer of Comme un froid entre nous, owns a restaurant in a ski resort. He locks up Julien Beaufort, his employee, in the cold room and disguises the crime as a snowboard accident. Agnès and Thibaud are called by Colonel Yves Lachassagne, of the local Gendarmerie. Julien, alias Manuel Langlois, was actually a con man and a blackmailer. Marlin happens to be the brother-in-law of Colonel Lachassagne, whose family is very important in the region.

Humorist and actor Bruno Salomone (Mention Particulière) plays Daniel. Isabelle Gélinas and him starred in Fais pas ci, fais pas ça (2007-2017) and Comme un froid entre nous looks just like a pretext to film a reunion in a nice ski station (La Joue du Loup). The scenery is not enough to forget the painful dialogues and the clichés. Also with François Cottrelle (Yves Lachassagne), Julien Bodet (Julien), Géraldine Loup (Françoise), Christine Cardeur (Pathologist), etc. Directed by Philippe Bérenger (Nicolas Le Floch).


Helmed by Didier Le Pêcheur, Au théâtre ce soir guest stars the popular Bernard Le Coq (Une famille formidable) as a declining actor named Martial Rey. Rey coldly strangles Xavier Mallory, who was about to replace him as director of the Centre dramatique national de Marseille. He manages to have a solid gold alibi and frames a taxi driver who has a criminal record. Agnès, a huge fan of Martial, investigates with Thibaud while dealing with personal complications when she must live with her two "husbands" under the same roof. 

This episode is almost perfect, except for the Agatha Christie-esque stage resolution. Its title refers to Au théâtre ce soir (1966-1986), a famous French television programme. The writers imagined the résumé of Martial Rey: L'éclusier de Conflans, L'âne et M. le maire, À trois on saute or... Nonosse (directed by Didier Le Pêcheur!) Agnès even watches a VHS of the latter (1) from a very recognizable company. Max (Thomas Walch), the pathologist, knows everything about the victim's theatrical performances: La trilogie du silence, Anatomie de l'indifférence, La nuit céruléenne...

The intro of Clovis Masson's radio show sounds like the theme of Radioscopie (France Inter, 1968-1990) composed by Georges Delerue. The plot of Au théâtre ce soir is good. The humour, well dosed, is enjoyable. The main cast and the guest actors are excellent. Also starring Renaud Leymans (Clovis), Vanessa David (Anne Grandet), Franck Manzoni (Yann Grandet), Nicolas Sartous (Xavier Mallory), Frank Adrien (Philippe), Laurent Fernandez (Micha), etc. Co-produced by Éléphant Story and France Télévisions, with AT-Production and R.T.B.F. (Télévision belge).

Produced with the participation of RTS (Radio Télévision Suisse) and TV5 Monde. Guillaume Renouil and Gaëlle Cholet are the producers. Executive production by Pierre Gallo for Solune Production. Music and theme from Crimes parfaits composed by Jean-Pierre Taïeb. Cinematography by Pierre Milon (Comme un froid entre nous) and Eric Guichard (Au théâtre ce soir).
(1) "Le film aux 7 millions de spectateurs."

Not yet shown by France 3. 
[Update - October 2, 2020] Crimes parfaits will be available at the end of this month in the United States on the SVOD service MHZ Choice as Perfect Murders.

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