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I have to agree with the other reviewers that Bellamy is not an earth-shattering experience, but I did find it oddly pleasing; the plot seems more of a pretext than a driving force, but this allows for a gentler sense of character development than you usually get in thrillers. This has been one of Chabrol's hallmarks all along, I think - he cuts a bit more slack than other directors working in the genre, with the result that a lingering tenderness towards the characters has time to develop. Here Gerard Depardieu is on absolutely top form as the detective and he makes even the most insignificant exchanges speak. The role of his wife is touchingly played by Marie Bunel, and it emerges as one of the more memorable screen portrayals of a love that has clearly been going for a number of years yet remains very real and poignant ... Jacques Gamblin is superb as the suspect who Bellamy takes on, while Clovis Cornillac adds a sexy, dangerous note as the half-brother who descends chaotically on the Bellamy household. The presentation of a gay couple as friends is also done with a sophistication that characterises the entire film, as do a number of other secondary characters who leave their mark in the mind far more than one might expect. Above all, though, it is Depardieu who brings such subtle charisma to the deliberately 'everyday' tone of the film.
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Bellamy is another curious non-event from Claude Chabrol that would sadly turn out to be his final film, taking colourful elements and turning them into something mundane and petit bourgeois in a plot that ambles along like someone doing his chores with his mind on something else. Yet curiously enough, while it lacks narrative drive, threat or much in the way of involvement, it's rather watchable in a very cosy Sunday teatime TV way. It's hard not to imagine this turning up on TV with David Suchet in the intermittently Botoxed Gerard Depardieu's role as the distracted Maigret-like detective who interrupts his holiday to uncover the truth behind a fatal insurance swindle after the guilty party (Jacques Gamblin in a double/triple role) gets in touch, but it's hard to understand just why he becomes so fascinated with the man and the case that he doesn't turn him in. As usual, Chabrol provides no real answers, with even its hero unsure if he's found the truth or been taken for a ride. Instead, this being Chabrol, information is exchanged in polite conversations in social situations or over dinner parties as gossip, with crime and death almost a distraction for the chattering classes.
What little edge there is is provided by Depardieu's most recent Asterix co-star Clovis Cornillac as his resentful half-brother, the black sheep of the family with a tendency to steal from friends and blame all his misfortunes on his brother getting all the luck. While it's obvious where this relationship is headed, it does at least bring into some relief the film's take on the role of luck in crime and everyday life, be it a grandparent walking into the wrong room at the right time or a spouse noticing a potentially deadly pitfall the other overlooks.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
'There is always another story, there is more than meets the eye." -- W.H. Auden5 Oct 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Claude Chabrol (24 June 1930 - 12 September 2010) was one of the French mainstream New Wave film directors, celebrated for his suspense thrillers. BELLAMY is his last film and as such will probably remain one of his more fascinating. he was able to take what appeared on the surface to be rather mundane characters and story threads and twist them and turn them into fascinating tales. This trait is very evident in the mesmerizing, seemingly off th ecuff film BELLAMY which holds our attention in a friendly conversational kind of way and then turns the tables at the end, leaving the viewer with the question 'why didn't I see that coming?'
Famous Parisian Inspector Paul Bellamy (Gérard Depardieu) and his wife Françoise (Marie Bunel) are enjoying their vacation in Françoise's childhood home in Nîmes, France when they notice a stalker. The stalker calls Bellamy to meet him: Noël Gentil (Jacques Gambin) confesses a murder he has committed and for some reason captures the attention of Bellamy. The 'murder' is an insurance scheme in which Noël staged his own death using a proxy in order to get his wife's life insurance money allowing him to run away with his girlfriend Nadia Sancho (Vahina Giocante). 'Noël Gentil' is actually Emile Leullet married to Madame Leullet (Adrienne Pauly) but after the staged car-over-the-cliff accident, a car supposedly containing a street person Denis Leprince - also played by Gambin, the scam is squelched by the insurance company's investigation. Bellamy covers every lead into this strange situation and it ends with a surprise death that alters the entire scam.
Meanwhile Bellamy's restless and resentful brother Jacques (Clovis Cornillac), an ex-con who still manages to steal from friends and puts the blame on his brother, visits Bellamy and his wife, and causes disruptions in their personal life as well as bringing Bellamy to a point of facing secrets about his childhood he has hidden from the world, secrets about his brother that are resolved in a very bizarre manner. All of these facts are ingredients for a thriller of a movie, but Chabrol's technique is to treat the harsh realities of the story as mere chatty conversations. All is not as it seems and behind every thread of this episodically related story are other stories that need the viewer's concentration to resolve.
The cast is strong and the jewel of the film is the performance by Marie Bunel as the loving, affectionate, older wife. She glows. It is sad that Claude Chabrol is gone, but his fine movies are a legacy that makes him immortal. Grady Harp, October 10