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Mr. Movie: French mysteries

The French are really good at twisty, attention-holding mysteries. Here are the best ones:


Anatomy of a Fall (2023) was nominated by the American academy for a Best Picture Oscar. It didn’t win, but it is a beauty. A well-known university professor is found dead in the snow near his chalet in the Alps. Suspicion immediately falls on his novelist wife. She insists she is innocent and that her husband must have committed suicide or had a terrible accident. The forensics people think they have the wife cold. Their young son, who discovered the body, changes his story of what he saw. The wife goes on trial for manslaughter.



Love Crime (2011) features Kristin Scott Thomas as the Boss From Hell of poor Isabelle Guerin, who she enjoys humiliating, especially in front of others. She will find this was a huge mistake, as Guerin exacts especially final revenge. This excellent French film has two delicious jaw-dropping twists!



Tell No One (2006) is a French film based on an American crime novel by Michael Connelly. If you get hold of this one, fasten your seat belt! Except for Kristin Scott Thomas (here she is again!), the cast and crew are all French. It utilizes the familiar Connelly plot device about a person supposedly dead who turns up with a squiggly explanation, but in time to help the hero out of a tight spot. Outlining the multiple twists and turns would give too much away. So I won’t. 


Frantic (1988) stars Harrison Ford as Richard Walker, an American physician attending a conference in Paris when his wife Sondra (Betty Buckley) is abducted from their hotel room while he is in the shower. This nightmare just gets worse as he speaks almost no French, and receives very little help from the police. Nor is the American embassy much help. The ending is one you will not see coming. This nail-biter was directed by Roman Polanski, who still can’t set foot in the United States because there’s still a warrant out for him.


Elle (2016) belongs entirely to the gifted Isabelle Huppert. She plays Michelle Leblanc, owner and developer of a video game company. It’s sort of hard to pull for this character, a domineering boss and serial sex partner, but maybe that’s the idea. She is a rape victim who seems to just shrug the incident off, but don’t be so sure.


I will mention The Crimson Rivers (2000), a grisly murder mystery set in the Alps. It enjoined a brief flare-up in Art Houses back when it was released. But it is butchered (read edited) so badly that even the actors no longer understand it. I do NOT recommend it!


All of the movies in this article are available somewhere. You just have to look. And yes, if you find them you’re going to have to use subtitles unless you’re fluent in French. Oh, and all of these are strictly for adults.