Crime Scene - - CONTENTS - By NEIL SMITH

The ver­dict on the Rowan Atkin­son ver­sion of the fa­mous French de­tec­tive.

The burly shad­ows of Rupert Davies and Michael Gam­bon loom large over the lat­est in­car­na­tion of Ge­orges Si­menon’s iconic de­tec­tive – to the detri­ment, alas, of Rowan Atkin­son, surely no one’s idea of a pipe-puff­ing chief inspector in the Paris Po­lice Ju­di­ci­aire. To his credit, the Bean star does en­deav­our to put his own ru­mi­na­tive, melan­cholic stamp on the char­ac­ter. The re­sult is so un­der­stated, how­ever, as to make him vir­tu­ally in­vis­i­ble in a role that of­fers fleet­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for Atkin­son to flex his comic chops.

Luck­ily the two fea­ture-length spe­cials here – “Maigret Sets A Trap” and “Maigret’s Dead Man” – fare some­what bet­ter in the vil­lain de­part­ment, whether it’s a mother-fix­ated killer of Mont­martre pros­ti­tutes or a fur- clad ladies’ man liv­ing off the sav­ings of slaugh­tered farm­ers.

The sec­ond, su­pe­rior film also boasts an ex­cit­ing shoot-out, not to men­tion a quiet mo­ment of com­pas­sion – Maigret re­quest­ing that flow­ers be brought into a room where a mother await­ing ex­e­cu­tion lies with her new­born – that per­haps comes clos­est to cap­tur­ing Ge­orges Si­menon’s pe­cu­liar blend of vi­o­lent per­ver­sity and som­bre moral rec­ti­tude.

Atkin­son plays an in­tense, brood­ing­mai­gret... with no trace of faux French ac­cent.

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