Mystere a Saint Tropez

Mystere a Saint Tropez
Running time:90 minutes
Director: Nicolas Benamou
Release date:14 july 2021
August 1970, in the middle of the yéyé period. Like every year, the billionaire Claude Tranchant and his wife Eliane have invited the cream of show business to their sumptuous villa in the tropics. Nothing seems to be able to spoil the festivities, except the disturbing sabotage of the couple's convertible. Convinced that he is the victim of a murder attempt, Tranchant calls on his friend Chirac to get the services of the best cop in Paris. But in the heart of summer, only Commissioner Boulin, a few weeks away from retirement, is available. As arrogant as he is incompetent, it is with methods all his own that the policeman will set out on the tracks of the troublemaker.

Mulder's Review

For all those who grew up watching Blake Edwards' films, Inspector Jacques Clouseau is one of the iconic characters of American comedies. This blundering inspector has been featured in nine films directed by this director but also in two other films in which Steve Martin succeeded Peter Sellers. If the trailer of Mystery in Saint Tropez seemed to show that the inspiration for the script of Jean-Marie Poiré, Christian Clavier, Nicolas Benamou and Jean-François Halin came from this cult film saga, we must recognize that the film easily confirms this claimed homage. 

In the same way, it is impossible not to think of the character of Hercule Poirot while following the investigation of Commissioner Boulin, notably by this excellent casting which characterizes this film and this investigation, caricature of stories such as Murder on the Orient Express (1934) and Death on the Nile (1937), whose most famous film adaptations are those released in the 1970s (Murder on the Orient Express (1974) by Sidney Lumet and Death on the Nile (1978) by John Guillermin. Yet in Mystery in Saint Tropez there are no murders but rather various attempts that constantly fail.

After an introductory scene in which we discover an individual in a diving suit who sabotages a car in the property of the billionaire Claude Tranchant and his wife Eliane, the credits are a perfect homage to those of the Pink Panther to our great delight because the nostalgia effect plays wonderfully and places us spectators in a universe we know with a clumsy inspector who always has his hat and who is not only blundering but also enduring and always gets his way. The character of Inspector Boulin (Christian Clavier), criticized by his direct superior Maurice Le Franc (Gerard Depardieu), is nevertheless entrusted with a delicate mission within the entourage of the billionaire Claude Tranchant (Benoît Poelvoorde), who is convinced that someone wants to take his life and that it is one of his relatives whom he is harboring at his home. Boutin is thus given the task of integrating himself as a butler and looking for leads to unmask the killer or killers in question.

Mystery à Saint-Tropez succeeds in finding the right approach to make the audience laugh several times and to set up a succession of hilarious scenes and specially to create a rather effective duo composed of actors Christian Clavier and Benoît Poelvoorde. It's no coincidence to find in the team of scriptwriters Jean-Marie Poiré (Le père Noël est une ordure (1982), L'Opération Corned-Beef (1991), Les Visiteurs (199)). The dialogues are thus perfectly brought and ring true even if some scenes are exaggerated and do not show finesse. However, we must recognize that the casting of supporting roles around Christian Clavier and Benoît Poelvoorde deserves our attention and we find Gérard Depardieu, Thierry Lhermitte, Virginie Hocq, Rossy de Palma, Vincent Desagnat and Jérôme Commandeur.

For his third solo film after Oil on the Fire (2011), A fond (2016) and his two co-directions with Philippe Lacheau (Babysitting 1 & 2 (2013, 2015), the director and co-writer Nicolas Benamou shows a real gift for crafting successful comedies that know how to avoid falling into the easy way. Certainly, in this case, the shadow of Blake Edwards hovers over the film, but the actors do not overdo it and manage to bring their characters to life.  The somewhat rushed ending seems to show that the mission of the film was to make the 70's credible and to make us forget this distressing period linked to the worldwide pandemic of covid 19. A successful comedy and above all, what a pleasure it is to see Benoît Poelvoorde in top form, who proves to be one of the best comedians today.

Mystère à Saint-Tropez
Directed by Nicolas Benamou
Produced by Olivier Delbosc and Christian Clavier
Written by Jean-Marie Poiré, Christian Clavier, Nicolas Benamou and Jean-François Halin
Starring Christian Clavier, Benoît Poelvoorde, Gérard Depardieu , Thierry Lhermitte, Virginie Hocq, Rossy de Palma , Vincent Desagnat , Jérôme Commandeur , Gil Alma , Nicolas Briançon, Chloé Lambert, Elisa Bachir Bey, Camille Claris, Philypa Phoenix, Jean Dell
Music by Maxime Desprez and Michaël Tordjman
Cinematography : Philippe Guilbert
Edited by Élodie Codaccioni 
Production companies: Curiosa Films, Studio Canal and Ouille Productions, StudioCanal, France 2 Cinéma, Umédia
Distributed by StudioCanal (France)
Release date : July 14, 2021 (France)
Running time : 90 minutes

Seen on July 12, 2021 at Gaumont Disney Village, Room 12 seat A19

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