Maigret: a disappointing adaptation [critique]

Obsessed with Depardieu and the myth of the superintendent, this Maigret never manages to jump the fetish obstacle to reach the film box. Pity.

Maigret, by the filmmaker of Mr Hire, with the heir in title of Gabin? On paper, it was intriguing. We’ve known for a long time that Leconte likes to play with myths – he filmed Delon and Belmondo, Johnny and Vanessa. And if Maigret consists of a pipe, a hat and an overcoat, who else but Gégé to play him? The meeting between the sacred monster of French cinema and the pachydermic monolith of Belgian literature seemed more than obvious. Obvious. This is also the (only) principle of the film. In Maigret, the commissioner tries to solve the mysterious death of a young girl. But the real investigation of the film, it is that which the camera of Leconte leads on Depardieu until curling the documentary on the actor. More than once, the character gives way to the person. The ogre-like figure is overwhelmed with sadness and despair and the real watches her face the depressions until her own dissolution. Seductive on a theoretical level, it all works in one or two scenes where the actor combines delicacy, bitterness and clumsiness to achieve a paradoxical grace. But most of the time Depardieu is only a shadow of himself (he announces his lines, walks with difficulty…). The problem is that there is nothing else on the screen. In the frame, the others are either insignificant or miss the point. As for the staging, by dint of following his character, of sticking to his rhythm, everything skates. The intentions are there, interesting, the approach indisputable. But we are left with the impression of a breathless attempt that misses the degree of excess and scale required to qualify in the category of great haunted or theoretical films.

Of Patrice Leconte. With Gérard Depardieu, Jade Labeste, Mélanie Bernier… Duration 1h28. Released February 23, 2022

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