30 December 2021

Philippe de Broca's Tendre poulet | Dear Detective (1978)

Dear Detective. Whatever genius invented that title couldn't possibly translate the pun in the title anyway. Admittedly, 'Tender Chicken' would hardly have been a suitable title for Annie Girardot (playing police chief Lise Tanquerelle at the age of about fifty-seven), but then there's a missed pun: 'poulet' is slang for cop. And Lise literally runs into Antoine Lemercier (Philippe Noiret), who's a teacher of Greek at the Sorbonne, as she's driving and he's riding a bicycle. And they turn out to be old friends when they were in class together, so there's a joining point.

And although they'd both love to cement that joining point in a relationship, Lise is held up by a series of apparently pointless murders, which is of course the MacGuffin: it keeps the attention and holds the suspense: this is not really about a series of murders but about will they/won't they get together? We really don't care why the presumably sexually depraved and psychotic concierge Charmille (Hubert Deschamps) killed those people.

In the end, of course Lise and Antoine get together, and there was even a sequel in 1980, when Lise and Antoine went on honeymoon in Greece: On a volé la cuisse de Jupiter (Jupiter's Thigh). Reviewers haven't been kind to the follow-up.

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