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'There is always another story, there is more than meets the eye.' WH Auden
Claude Chabrol (24 June 1930 - 12 September 2010) was one of the French mainstream New Wave film directors, celebrated for his suspense thrillers. BELLAMY is his last film and as such will probably remain one of his more fascinating. he was able to take what appeared on the surface to be rather mundane characters and story threads and twist them and turn them into fascinating tales. This trait is very evident in the mesmerizing, seemingly off the cuff film BELLAMY which holds our attention in a friendly conversational kind of way and then turns the tables at the end, leaving the viewer with the question 'why didn't I see that coming?'
Famous Parisian Inspector Paul Bellamy (Gérard Depardieu) and his wife Françoise (Marie Bunel) are enjoying their vacation in Françoise's childhood home in Nîmes, France when they notice a stalker. The stalker calls Bellamy to meet him: Noël Gentil (Jacques Gambin) confesses a murder he has committed and for some reason captures the attention of Bellamy. The 'murder' is an insurance scheme in which Noël staged his own death using a proxy in order to get his wife's life insurance money allowing him to run away with his girlfriend Nadia Sancho (Vahina Giocante). 'Noël Gentil' is actually Emile Leullet married to Madame Leullet (Adrienne Pauly) but after the staged car-over-the-cliff accident, a car supposedly containing a street person Denis Leprince - also played by Gambin, the scam is squelched by the insurance company's investigation. Bellamy covers every lead into this strange situation and it ends with a surprise death that alters the entire scam.
Meanwhile Bellamy's restless and resentful brother Jacques (Clovis Cornillac), an ex-con who still manages to steal from friends and puts the blame on his brother, visits Bellamy and his wife, and causes disruptions in their personal life as well as bringing Bellamy to a point of facing secrets about his childhood he has hidden from the world, secrets about his brother that are resolved in a very bizarre manner. All of these facts are ingredients for a thriller of a movie, but Chabrol's technique is to treat the harsh realities of the story as mere chatty conversations. All is not as it seems and behind every thread of this episodically related story are other stories that need the viewer's concentration to resolve.
The cast is strong and the jewel of the film is the performance by Marie Bunel as the loving, affectionate, older wife. She glows. It is sad that Claude Chabrol is gone, but his fine movies are a legacy that makes him immortal.
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