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For some time now, women coming home at night have been savagely murdered by a mysterious serial killer. Inspector Lagrume thinks he has found the culprit in the person of Barberot, a local butcher. But Maigret, who takes over the investigation, is not convinced. Deep inside himself, he knows the murderer is still at large. But how to trap him ? Written by
Alongside Molinaro's "La Mort de Belle", the best adaptation of a Simenon story for the big screen.
Helmer Delannoy proves a past master at creating a stifling atmosphere ( night scenes, a hot stormy weather, a heady melody pervading the story ), managing to make the tension rise and swell regularly until it explodes in a triple climax ( Maurice's interrogation, the confrontation of Maurice's wife and mother, the final attempt to murder Mauricette ). So, when the rain finally starts falling in the final seconds of the movie, it does as much good to bulky, weary Gabin as it does to the tense viewer.
Of course, the film benefits from a great interpretation : Jean Gabin gives life to his determined-shrewd-exhausted "commissaire" while Jean Desailly shines as the poor but dangerous Maurice whose boyhood has been prolonged by the misguided love of his mother ( Lucienne Bogaërt, perfect ). And Annie Girardot plays subtly and with welcome restraint the loving wife of a monster.
Sure, Misraki's music and song are haunting and the camera-work is sleek, but what actually makes this film a major work is that the authors( R.M.Arlaud, Delannoy and Audiard ) are true to the spirit of Simenon : disillusioned with human nature but sympathetic with those who are its victims, however monstrous they may appear to society.
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