Despite continuing to make new films until his death last September at age 80, director Claude Chabrol will be remembered primarily for his association with the 1960s French New Wave.
His last film, "Inspector Bellamy," is missing the revolutionary spirit that colored the New Wave. In fact, while the movie's beautifully shot and acted, the story's meandering pace lacks spirit of any kind, radical or otherwise.
The film follows a vacationing police inspector as he tries to unravel a murder mystery. The leisurely rate can be attributed to portly Inspector Bellamy (Gerard Depardieu), who never seems in any hurry to actually solve the crime presented to him by a strange man (Jacques Gamblin).
It's a halfhearted attempt at a whodunit, and the time Bellamy spends questioning the man, his wife and his mistress isn't nearly as suspenseful as it needs to be.
Faring better is the easy chemistry between Bellamy and his wife (a wonderful Marie Bunel), which is strained when the inspector's alcoholic half-brother Jacques (Clovis Cornillac) starts antagonizing the couple.
A well-known devotee of Alfred Hitchcock, Chabrol seems to be working too hard to force a bit of intrigue into this otherwise fascinating character study. It may not be perfect, but it's a welcome tribute to a director who will be missed.