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A serial killer strikes in post-war France and it's up to Jules Maigret, a dedicated police commissioner, to hunt the murderer down.

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Maigret Sets A Trap movie full length review - Mildly Entertaining Thriller

Watching another version of Maigret inevitably prompts comparison between Rowan Atkinson's interpretation of the role and that of previous actors: Rupert Davies and Michael Gambon on television, Maurice Denham and Nicholas le Prevost on radio.

While lacking the physical and vocal presence of all of these actors, Atkinson brings a quiet dignity to the inspector's personality; a police officer remaining unflappable even in the face of adversity, such as the prospect of being removed from the case due to an inability to obtain quick results.

The plot of MAIGRET SETS A TRIP is less of a whodunit and more of a whydunit. We know quite early on in the episode who the murderer is; what matters is to find out precisely why they should have decided to kill innocent women. When Fiona Shaw appears as the suspect's mother, in a highly florid characterization full of tragic expressions and melodramatic gesture (inviting a Freudian interpretation of her relationship to her son), we can understand the victim's behavior.

Stewart Harcourt's script contains some clunky dialogue (one particular nugget occurs when Maigret says "take care" to a group of plain- clothes female police officers who are about to go on the streets of Montmartre, thereby putting themselves in danger of being attacked by the murderer). Yet Simeonon's source-text is so astutely structured that it emerges intact, despite the screenplay's best efforts to ruin it. We sympathize with Maigret as he patiently fits the evidence together, asking all the right questions and coming to conclusions as a result.

Filmed mostly in Budapest, standing in for Fifties Paris, apart from some location shots in Monmartre, Ashley Pearce's production reinforces familiar stereotypes about the French capital as a place for lovers, or citizens prepared to spend their days sitting outside in cafés watching the world go by. The period atmosphere is meticulously recreated, although it seems just a little too chocolate-box like on occasions.

This episode ends with a shot of Maigret walking away from camera along a tree-lined road (the Jardin des Tuilieries, perhaps?), thereby reinforcing the familiar tele-stereotype of the detective forced to live a solitary life in his efforts to solve crimes. This version of MAIGRET might have its faults, but it is sufficiently watchable to encourage us to watch further episodes.