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Kino on Video presents
Inspecteur Lavardin (1986)

"It's like a haunted house."
- Inspector Jean Lavardin (Jean Poiret)

Review By: Nate Meyers  
Published: August 05, 2005

Stars: Jean Poiret
Other Stars: Jean-Claude Brialy, Bernadette Lafont, Jean-Luc Bideau, Jacques Dacqmine, Hermine Clair, Pierre-François Dumeniaud, Florent Gibassier, Guy Louret, Jean Depussé
Director: Claude Chabrol

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (thematic content, sexual content, language)
Run Time: 01h:36m:01s
Release Date: August 02, 2005
UPC: 698452203034
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+BB D+

DVD Review

Inspecteur Lavardin is a sequel to Claude Chabrol's enjoyable Cop au vin. In fact, it's one of those rare occasions in which the sequel surpasses the original. Don't hesitate to see it if you missed the earlier picture, for the only thing connecting the two of them is the title character (once again played by Jean Poiret). After finding himself in a rather bizarre situation concerning a missing wife and dead butcher, Lavardin now heads to a different provincial French town to unmask the truth behind the murder of one Raoul Mons (Jacques Dacqmine).

A wealthy conservative Catholic, Mons is found dead and desecrated on a remote beach. The local police are ill-equipped for this kind of crime and call upon the famous Jean Lavardin, who is greeted by Sgt. Marcel Vigouroux (Pierre-François Dumeniaud) and taken promptly to meet the dead man's family. The family is comprised of Mons' wife Hélène (Bernadete Lafont), stepdaughter Véronique (Hermine Clair), and brother-in-law Claude (Jean-Claude Brialy). It comes as a genuine surprise to the audience when Lavardin arrives and recognizes Hélène, a former lover of his own. More shocking, though, is the utter disdain Mons' family displays for him, particularly Claude. Something is awry and Lavardin's scent for the truth begins to investigate the whole family, which leads him to a variety of odd characters, including a troubled young man named Francis (Florent Gibassier) and slimy club owner, Max Charnet (Jean-Luc Bideau).

The true identity of the killer is hardly a surprise, though the story that takes us to the revelation is continuously entertaining and surprisingly fresh. It's been a long time since I can remember a whodunit that relies on wit and intelligent characters as opposed to cheap thrills and excessive violence. Lavardin's eccentric behavior carries over into this film, as evident by him renaming Sgt. Vigouroux as "Watson" (a fairly clever bit of writing). The screenplay, by Dominique Roulet, is filled with strange humor that works well with the rather grim thematic content. Feeling like a cross between The Naked Gun and Chinatown, Chabrol's film is far from profound, but constantly engaging. Told with Chabrol's trademark restrained filmmaking, Inspecteur Lavardin looks and feels like an old-fashioned cop movie, with a decidedly French twist.

Largely, the success of the movie hinges on Poiret's performance. He builds upon the blueprints laid out by his earlier incarnation of the character, bringing a greater depth to Lavardin and his motivations. Clearly being compelled to uncover the truth, Lavardin is a smart cop with seemingly unstoppable resolve. In fact, the strength of his character poses a problem for the film, because the conclusion does appear to contradict with Lavardin's personal code of ethics. As the closing credits scrolled, I still liked the movie, but couldn't help but feel that the ending kept it from being a great motion picture.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic 1.66:1 widescreen is somewhat grainy, but there's a nice sense of depth that creates a filmlike look. Contrast is strong and detail is sharp, though the cinematography does not allow for a particularly flashy image.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: The French Dolby Stereo 2.0 mix sounds crisp and clean, with some satisfying ambient noises to open up the mix. It's extremely front heavy, but it fits the source material well.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: The supplemental material on this disc is quite brief. A featurette, A Presentation by Film Scholar Joel Magny (02m:41s), features still images with a French narration by Magny with English subtitles. He discusses Chabrol's opinion of the material, which is far less flattering than my review of it. The original French trailer is also shown in 1.33:1 pan-and-scan, but is in French and contains no subtitles.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Superior to its predecessor, Inspecteur Lavardin is a creative, entertaining detective story from Claude Chabrol. The ending is disappointing, but the trip to it is well worth the fare. The image and sound transfers are good, but the extras are limited.


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