|Index||3 reviews in total|
A masterclass on how TV drama should be made.
Every camera angle is a painting and not a second is wasted.
(Take note, BBC... there is no need to insert noisy music, misplaced minorities and left wing ideology to make first class drama.)
This time, the second outing of the latest re-boot, Maigret (Rowan Atkinson) almost takes a back seat to the events and characters that surround him. It's a low-energy drama that sees a heavy emphasis on characters and almost none on action.
Also, there isn't much of a story to sink yourself into and unlike the Foyle mysteries, there doesn't seem to be that slow crescendo of suspense that leads to a final act.
This style of drama probably won't appeal much to many people under thirty years old!
But for me, this was a treat... the meticulous yet understated set details (the cars were old and dirty, NOT showroom new and shiny clean!), the disarming harmony between Maigret and Mrs Maigret, the music (which mostly stayed in the background where it should be)... it was British TV drama at it's finest.
I hope that the team that went into this production stay together long enough to churn out a few more just like it. Merry Christmas, me!
Who would have thought that Rowan Atkinson could play a role as
difficult as "Maigret"? Not only is this on the other end of the
spectrum, light-years away from "Johnny English" and "Mr. Bean",
Commissaire Maigret (in this series ranked as "chief-inspector") was
splendidly portrayed by the late Bruno Cremer in no less than 54 (!)
episodes, which made it twice as difficult for Atkinson to become the
Having read most of my countryman Georges Simenon's books, I have an image of Jules Maigret as a thinker, not a talker. Rowan Atkinson portrays this in a very convincing way. Perhaps a little more pipe- training could come in handy, but other than that it's a realistic Maigret.
The use of Hungary as film location for 1950's Paris is a good choice: the dirty houses and alleys realistically picture the era of a coal-heated metropolis. Dirty cars complete the image, and even the camera-work reminds of the film-noir of the 1940's and '50's.
The only flaws in this and the previous episode, are goofs that could have been avoided easily: the car's headlights should have been yellow, not white (compulsory in France from the mid 1930's until 1993), in lit areas French cars used to drive with the positioning lights on - dip and high beam were only used on dark country roads, not in town. Another goof are the press cameras flash bulbs: until the late 1960's, before the age of electronics, flash bulbs were made of magnesium filaments, and had to be replaced after every shot. It was impossible to flash, flash, flash in a few seconds, like ALL the cameras in this series do. Shame on you, researchers!
I really enjoyed Rowan Atkinson as a mature Jules Maigret, however... on the sly I was hoping for a suspect called... Bob. ;-)
Pleased as I am to find that Rowan Atkinson can play straight roles,
the Maigrets who have gone before(Cremer, Gabin, Gambon and co) have no
competition in the new series. In spite of some excellent performances
(Madame Maigret radiates decency and warmth while scarcely saying a
word, whether she's serving drinks,comforting a widow or simply giving
Maigret an extremely speaking look), "Maigret's Dead Man" never rises
from the floor due to lackluster directing. All those distorted shots,
lurid lighting and "artistic" camera angles gave me the impression that
John East had seen Moulin Rouge far too often.
Even though we are treated to some background detail that those who have read the original novels will find pleasing (as for example Maigret's love of a hot coal fire to roast himself before in order to think a case through), too many things were ever so slightly wrong. I can't blame it on the fact that Hungary has to do duty for postwar Paris; the Bruno Cremer series was also shot in Central Europe, but at least they got the lighting and architecture right for Paris. The direction was slow and lackluster, the police officers supposedly masquerading as habitues in a local bistro stuck out a mile in their gabardines and hats, and the film went on for far too long. A judicious use of sound stages would have served the purpose much better.
A strange offering for Christmas Day, what with torture and mass murder, sociopaths and showgirls. With such a volatile mixture, how did it all turn out so very bland?
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