Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Shaun Dingwall, Lucy Cohu, Lorraine Ashbourne, Cassie Clare, Sebastian De Souza, Simon Gregor, Mark Heap, Douglas Hodge, Sara Kestelman, Nike Kurta, Colin Mace, Gyula Mesterhazy, Adrian Scarborough, Hugh Simon, Nicola Sloane, Leo Starr, Olivia Vinall, Tilly Vosburgh, Jane Wood.
There may be murders in the Rue Morgue but then Paris, under the watchful eye of renowned Detective Maigret has always had its share of acts of homicide in which to fear the mist that rises off the Seine and through the artistic expression of Europe’s most romantic city. It is love that spurs on more murders than hate so it seems in detective fiction and in Maigret in Montmartre, that love is heightened, corrupted and put to the test of what even Jules Maigret can possibly solve.
What Rowan Atkinson brings to the role of Inspector Maigret is beyond reproach, a character, like his much beloved comedy hero Edmund Blackadder or even his theatrical version of Fagin, that could have been tailor made for him, stitched, woven into his very fabric as an actor, given a sense of the perfect in which to prove that his time on British television has been one of the upmost respect and reliability.
In the fourth story to be adapted with Mr. Atkinson as the thoughtful Paris detective, Maigret in Montmartre, the underbelly of Paris is again probed with considerable and unselfish persuasion. To imagine the enclave of supposed debauchery and yet arguably one of the most fascinating areas to explore in the whole of the French capital, the chic and the rich rubbing shoulders and trading secrets with the down and out and salacious, this is a setting that really plays against the almost gentleness, considerate nature of Georges Simenon’s much loved character.
Death can happen anywhere, murder it seems, is almost more enticing for the reader or the television voyeur when it set against the hidden world, the one in which the stalking figure in the shadows is more at home as it lights up a cigarette and contemplates the most deadly of acts. So it is in the shadows of Montmartre that such felony derives and feels at home, a case of murder born and fear finding a way to get under the skin of the citizens who call the shadows a friend.
Maigret in Montmartre is particularly unnerving, a place in which the most evil of men contemplated the French capitulation and destruction in the early stages of World War Two, cannot help but be steeped in history’s own shadow. The part of Paris that looks down upon the sprawling metropolis and yet is looked down upon by many who see it lord above them, the terror of a killer crawling through the alleyways and long hard steps is enough to make the British viewer think of Whitechapel in the 19th Century.
A tremendously enjoyable adaptation, Maigret in Montmartre is a final hurrah of great detective fiction for 2017 and one that hopefully installs into the producers of the serial to continue making more.
Ian D. Hall