DVD Review– The Little Murders of Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie’s mysteries are popular all over the world, and when her works are adapted by global filmmakers, the creative teams tend to put their own stamp on the productions. In The Little Murders of Agatha Christie, or Les Petits Meurtres D’Agatha Christie, a French spin is imposed on the British icon’s tales.
The first thing that Christie fans will notice is that Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple are nowhere to be found. Writing as a Christie purist, changes are always a discomforting thing for me. It does make some sense that Poirot, who as a Belgian was partially characterized by his constant cultural clashes due to his transportation to England, would not be as distinct when moved to France. The detection is performed by Antoine Duléry as Larosière and Marius Colucci as Lampion, a pair of official police detectives in the 1930s. Larosière is abrasive, prone to fluctuating temper tantrums, and fond of good food and beautiful women. The younger Lampion is Larosière’s assistant and general dogsbody. Larosière is more placid in nature, slightly clumsy, and openly gay. Though the two are very different men—and indeed, the senior detective tends to bully and browbeat his subordinate at times—in the long run, the two have a father-son relationship. In The Moving Finger, when Lampion is seriously injured, Duléry produces his best performance when he expresses deep concern and anxiety for his surrogate son’s fate. I really like Duléry and Colucci as actors, and they work well together, though I still miss Christie’s original creations deeply.
Duléry and Colucci starred in eleven adaptations before leaving the series and being replaced with a new set of detectives (Their first adventures are in a different DVD set). The five episodes in this set are based upon The Moving Finger, Five Little Pigs, Taken at the Flood, Lord Edgware Dies, and Sleeping Murder. All of the adaptations vary dramatically from the original: a lot more sexual content and French slapstick have been added, along with plotlines developing the characters. The Moving Finger adds a couple of affairs and an extra murder, Lord Edgware Dies adds a serial killer, and Taken at the Flood makes a change in an early death that would actually have improved the David Suchet adaptation of the tale. The best episode is Five Little Pigs, which is fairly close to the original material save for a swap-out of one suspect. With particularly poignant scenes and richer emotional depth, my personal favorite Christie novel makes for first-rate adaptations.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about Duléry and Colucci leaving is the fact that the end of Sleeping Murder sets up a plotline for Duléry tracking down the father he never knew. The Little Murders of Agatha Christie is at best “inspired” by Christie’s work. Christie purists like myself may cringe frequently at some aspects of these adaptations, though as an archpurist I will happily note that there are a lot of terrific actors in these telemovies, and the product values and art design are lovely.
The Little Murders of Agatha Christie