It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Paul Bellamy is large, unkempt, sweet, blissfully married and very calm for a police inspector. He doesn't solve a case so much as observe it with interest as it solves itself by the working of human nature. If you, like me, are a lover of Simenon's Inspector Maigret, you will find his nature embodied here in the performance of Gerard Depardieu. If you are not, get your hands on a Maigret novel and thank me for the rest of your life.
As Claude Chabrol's "Inspector Bellamy" opens, Paul is on holiday with Francoise Bellamy (Marie Bunel) who, like Madame Maigret, understands her husband profoundly and is his sounding board as a case first baffles him and then unfolds under the gentle pressure of his low-key snooping.
A man has been following them for days, and even now is creeping about in the garden. This man is named Gentil, and later will turn out to be Leullet, who Gentil killed, "sort of," while actually killing Leprince, who was in a sense only technically a victim. All three men are played by Jacques Gamblin. This is not at all confusing, because of the ordered precision of Bellamy's approach, and Chabrol's.
Besides, it doesn't matter so much who did what and to whom. As in a Simenon novel, the solution is less interesting than the people encountered along the way, and the sometimes sad lessons to be learned. "Inspector Bellamy" is only technically a murder mystery, and the critic Armond White is correct in observing, "genre is Chabrol's MacGuffin." After hooking the audience with the mystery, Chabrol then uses it as his avenue into the relationships between Bellamy and his wife; his loutish half-brother, Jacques (Clovis Cornillac), and two spritely local women who are mistresses, but not always the mistresses of those who claim them.