(director/writer: Claude Chabrol; screenwriter: Odile Barski; cinematographer: Eduardo Serra; editor: Monique Fardoulis; music: Matthieu Chabrol; cast: Gérard Depardieu (Paul Bellamy), Clovis Cornillac (Jacques Lebas), Jacques Gamblin (Noël Gentil/Emile Leullet/Denis Leprince), Vahina Giocante (Nadia Sancho), Marie Matheron (Madame Leullet), Marie Bunel (Françoise Bellamy), Bruno Abraham-Kremer (Bernard), Yves Verhoeven(Alain), Adrienne Pauly(Claire), Rodolphe Pauly(Advocate); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Patrick Godeau; IFC Films; 2009-France-in French with English subtitles)

“Wonderful thinking man’s crime drama.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This wonderful thinking man’s crime drama was the last picture the prolific French New Wave filmmaker Claude Chabrol (“The Swindle”/”The Color of Lies”/”Betty”) directed (totaling some 80 films since 1958’s Le Beau Serge), as he died in 2010 at age 80.Chabrol co-writes it with Odile Barski.

Paris’s celebrated obese police inspector Paul Bellamy (Gérard Depardieu), who recently had his memoir published that turned into a best-seller, is on vacation and living comfortably with his wise wife Françoise (Marie Bunel) in their family country home in the Provençal town of Nîmes. Curious about a call from a nervous mystery man who is later identified as Leullet (Jacques Gamblin), Bellamy can’t resist listening to his sob story of how the married man committed murder in an insurance scam to be with his young attractive temptress pedicurist mistress (Vahina Giocante) and is now on-the-run with a new identity and plastic surgery for a face makeover. This came after the insurance company uncovered Leullet’s scam to replace a homeless man instead of himself in the car accident.

Bellamy is too excited about the case to continue with his vacation plans, as he mocks the local police inspector as a jackass and interviews the scam artist’s long-suffering wife Madame Leullet (Marie Matheron) and other persons of interest. Bellamy is confused about what to make of all the new info he’s fed, such as believing that the tramp who died actually was suicidal. When not grabbing his wife’s ass or in a child-like manner putting his head on her chest for support, Bellamy likes discussing the case with her to see what reaction he gets as she helps in the same way she helps him complete his newspaper crossword puzzle.

At this time Bellamy is visited by his miserable alter ego loser kid half-brother, Jacques (Clovis Cornillac), and the resentful Jacques does everything he can to test his patience as the brothers never stop arguing, drinking and smoking.

Seemingly lighthearted for most of the pic and filled with the usual Chabrol witty banter, things take a surprising turn as a Hitchcock-like thriller at the conclusion and it perceptively ends on the sly as a puzzler with a quote from W.H. Auden’s “At Last the Secret Is Out”: There is always another story—there’s more than meets the eye.

REVIEWED ON 12/25/2010 GRADE: A-