This film feels like a pilot episode for what the makers hope will become a series. French TV has a long tradition of 90 min crime drama series, some edgier than others, but most with a light touch of comedy to relieve tensions. Le Passage du Desir seems to want to join that tradition, but I'd be very surprised if the option is picked up.
Two young women find their neighbour's door ajar, step in to check on her and find her brutally murdered. There are similarities with an unsolved crime from a decade ago, and one of the girls takes it upon herself to involve Lola, an ex-cop living in the neighbourhood who opted for early retirement in favour of jigsaw puzzles and jazz music. Miss Diesel, the girl who ropes her into an investigation (because she dislikes the officer who takes the case, forsooth) is a part-time masseuse who claims to be half- French, half American.
The plot twists and turns and meshes with another crime, false accusations fly and red herrings abound; we're even treated to the obligatory police-officers-attend-the-funeral scene. But it just isn't good enough. The actors do what they can with the roles they were given; it's not their fault that the characters aren't sympathetic or believable, and the backstory owes far too much to previous series ("Soeur Therese.com" sprang to mind both for myself and the person watching with me). "Miss Diesel", spouting thickly-accented English profanity every time she opens her mouth, whether it fits or not, is amusing for about five minutes and then becomes annoying. (She is obviously, painfully, not American and never was). Christian Hecht (known to fans of French crime dramas as Frankenstein, the forensic scientist from "Crimes en Series")manages to infuse his small, flat part with inimitable comic touches just by his facial expressions, proving that there are only small actors. But the plot devices are transparent, the red herrings stink to high heaven, and the facile, unbelievable end feels rushed and patched-on, as if the production team were running out of time, money or patience.
It was a harmless enough way to spend 90 min on a Sunday afternoon, but it's not Crimes en Series. Zut--it's not even Maigret. Dommage, les filles.
(I'd like to apologise to all French speaking people who read this review. IMDb's spellcheck does not speak French or understand adverbials in that language are not plural, hence the mistake in the title of a series that I cannot correct.)
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