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[Fantasia ’22] ‘Maigret’ review: Whodunit asks who is it?

Less boisterous and more personal.

Maigret is a French-Belgium crime drama making its North American premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival. Taking place in 1950s Paris, a young woman rents a beautiful dress and attends an exclusive party. Before the night is over, she winds up dead. The titular detective takes over the case and a different type of murder mystery unfolds. 

It is a set up found often in the genre. As more details are revealed, Maigret becomes even more familiar. The dress the victim wore was more than she could afford, for example, and of course, no one knows anything about her. Initially, it seems like it is going to be just another detective story. 

Using tropes of the genre, Director Patrice Leconte tells a different story. The unknown dead woman is not used as a means to an end. Maigret is more about the victim than the crime itself. It is a different vision that takes some getting used to. This is not a story about piecing clues together to find the culprit; it asks questions about who instead of why. 

This lends itself to a more personal film. Motive is an important part of Maigret, but everything is focused on the girl. What follows is more tragic and less boisterous. Similar stories spend time with red herrings while leading the audience. The trail found here is a linear one, but it is just as engaging and much more emotional. 

[Fantasia '22] 'Maigret' review: Whodunit asks who is it?

Those looking for a good old-fashioned mystery will not be disappointed. The plot is more methodical and offers less twists, but it is just as tense. Maigret will engage with its story of lost innocence and broken dreams. It is necessary to recalibrate expectations, however. Nowhere is this more clear than in the ending which does away with the usual dramatic flair in an attempt to be something more meaningful.

Maigret is screening at the Fantasia Festival 

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