Neely Swanson

“Perfect Murders” – Not quite [MOVIE REVIEW]

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Isabelle Gélinas as Captain Agnes and Arthur Mazet as Thibaud in “Perfect Murders.” Photo courtesy of MHz Choice.

by Neely Swanson

“Perfect Murders,” is an anthology series premiering on MHz streaming platform on October 27. The six-episode series follows the investigative detectives as they try to solve a cleverly performed murder that has already been revealed to the audience “Columbo” style.

The stand-alone stories are divided into groups of two. The first two murders are “solved” by the eccentric Captain Agnes, a rule-averse would-be flower child (if she weren’t 15 years too young to have experienced the 60s or 70s) whose musical tastes run to Jimi Hendrix and a role-reversing sex life that involves two different life-partners who live in adjacent houses; and Thibaud, a young (very young) detective who has recently transferred from the cloistered environs of the toney 16th arrondissement of Paris. He has a lot to learn and she will teach him.

The second two “perfect crimes” are in the hands of grizzled inspector Renaud Delauney and his beautiful young lieutenant Laura Mizon. He’s charming, drives a motorcycle, and skeptical of everything; quick to jump to the correct conclusions. She’s beautiful, young, and scattered as manifested by her incredulity at his conclusions and the fact that she drives a VW Bug convertible.

And finally, the last two episodes are anchored by Superintendent Damien Roche and Prosecutor Gabrielle. This pairing reflects the fact that in the French judicial system, the police are paired with a prosecutor who actively participates in the investigation. In this case, the prosecutor is a dish and the superintendent makes no effort to hide his attraction.

Some of the episodes are better than others, just as some of the teams are more engaging than others. “Perfect Murders” is a by-the-book procedural totally indebted to that 1970s chestnut “Columbo.” The difficulty here is that none of the rotating leads is Peter Falk. They aren’t even John Nettles, who plays DCI Tom Barnaby in “Midsommer Murders.” They are all adequate and if they aren’t better it’s because there is no room for character development in these one hour episodes — no complexity, no conflict, very little of personal interest.

“Perfect Murders” follows a similar formula to another MHz Choice series entitled “Murder In” where the gimmick is that the pairs of detectives solve crimes in different locations, the place being as much a character as the murder being investigated. The photography, music, and production design are eerily similar.

“Perfect Murders” is fairly soft focus, without any sharp narrative edge. Nevertheless, “Perfect Murders” is a pleasant way to spend an hour or so. Some of the crimes are more complicated than others, and those are the most fun, but all have something to draw you in. It’s not “Criminal: UK” or “Criminal: France;” it’s not even “Murder, She Wrote” or “Columbo;” but it is a bit of fun in places that are worth a visit.

In French with subtitles.

Launching Tuesday October 27 on MHz Choice.

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