In hindsight, the establishing shot of Claude Chabrol’s Bellamy showing a relaxed Paul Bellamy (Gérard Depardieu) trying to solve a crossword puzzle while on vacation at a well appointed country estate in Nîmes – an apparent compromise in destination from his wife, Françoise’s (Marie Bunel) suggestions to take a more exotic trip – serves as both hint and a ruse to the renowned police inspector’s ever-analytical personality. Struggling to cope with the unexpected arrival of his troublesome, ne’er-do-well, younger brother Jacques (Clovis Cornillac) and visited by a stranger, Noël Gentil (Jacques Gamblin) who may have been involved in the unsolved disappearance of an industrialist named Emile Leullet, Bellamy is gradually pulled away from his seeming hibernation, seduced by the stranger’s tale of double lives, insurance fraud, a beautiful, young mistress (Vahina Giocante), a grieving, persecuted wife (Marie Matheron), and face-altering cosmetic surgery that seem worlds apart from his comfortable, settled life. Similar to Chabrol’s previous film, A Girl Cut in Two, the psychology of the pursuer not only shapes the narrative trajectory of the film, but also continually redefines his ambiguous motivation: an unmade bed opens up the possibility of an affair, a missing gun corroborates a theoretical pattern of self-destruction, an all-too-forthcoming suspect that suggests hidden, ulterior motives. Bookending with a shot of a motorist’s violent death on a desolate beach, the image suggests both a tragic conclusion and the ingredients of a new mystery – a paradoxical reflection of Bellamy’s own self-perpetuating puzzle quest.
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